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AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
This is a limited edition of
one hundred copies. The type
has been distributed.
This copy is No. l . |. . ..
BRIGADIER GENERAL, C. S. A.
Taken in Richmond during the Winter of 1863/4.
THE WILLIAM BYRD PRESS, Inc.
My wife and son have urged me to add a few notes to the
autobiography of my father and to have a few copie§ printed
for my immediate family and for a few intimate friends, as a
part of the unwritten history of the impor>tant/ «iven|^f the
period in which he figured. Accordingly, I have had printed
this edition of one hundred copies, and in it all rights literary
or otherwise are reserved to myself. No copy will be sold,
and none has been given away, but when advisable a copy
may be loaned to a friend who may desire to read it.
I make these somewhat unusual reservations for the follow-
(i) In the preface to the autobiography my father stated:
"I have written this little unpretentious volume for them" (my
children) "and for them only." This will explain the many
intimate family incidents in these pages that are intensely in-
teresting to his children, but have no place in a book intended
for general circulation.
(2) There are many facts in the book, and especially some
relating to the war, which would probably lead to bitter and
acrimonious controversy that I would deeply regret.
I feel it my duty, however, to preserve the facts for future
My father dictated this autobiography in his eighty-second year
while living in the retirement of his old age at our home, 8 East
Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia.
Eppa Hunton, Jr.
To MY TWO DEAR, DEAR CHILDREN, EpPA AND JiNCIE,
who have contributed so much to my comfort
and happiness, who are the props on which i
lean in my old age, and who will so well fill
the place i shall soon leave vacant, this volume
is most affectionately inscribed by
I HAVE been very reluctant to write anything concerning my
own life. It has been one of continual struggle from early
orphanage. I know that I have figured, more or less, in the
most trying scenes of the country — that I have been an actor
in military and civil strife — that I endeavored to do my duty
in every position I have ever filled. In reviewing my long life,
I feel that it has fallen far short of what it ought to have been,
and a poor recital of its leading events will interest no one except
my children. They have insisted so strongly on this autobiog-
raphy, I have reluctantly yielded. They are the dearest and
most affectionate children in this world.
I have written this little unpretentious volume for them and
for them only. The arduous labors of professional and political
life since the war have blotted from my memory many impor-
tant events of my life, and all the little incidents calculated to
make my Biography interesting.
I hope I shall leave a reputation for integrity, patriotism and
honor, and that my children will never blush at mention of
their father's name.
God bless, protect and prosper them.
Richmond, June 14, 1904.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
My birth 3
Genealogy of my parents 3
Father died in 1830 4
My brothers and sisters 5
Was educated at New Baltimore Academy 5
Taught school and studied law three years 6
Licensed and settled at Brentsville 6
Elected Commonwealth's Attorney twice 6
Married Lucy C. Weir 7
Genealogy of wife's parents 7
Purchased home in Brentsville 7
Mrs. Clara B. Weir 7
Again elected Commonwealth's Attorney 8
Daughter Lizzie born 8
My son Eppa born 8
Delegate to National Convention 9
Sectional excitement 9
Lincoln elected President 10
Secession of Cotton States 10
Jeff Davis President Confederate States 11
Virginia Secession Convention OF which I WAS A member . . 11
The convention 13
Peace Congress 15
Lincoln's call for soldiers 16
Ordinance passed 17
The Ordinance 17
Signed by all loyal Virginians in the convention .... 20
Many friends in convention 21
Patriotism of Whig party 21
xii TABLE OF CONTENTS
Eppa and the Yankee boy 22
Resigned as Brigadier General of Militia and appointed
Colonel of 8th Virginia Infantry Regiment .... 22
Organization of 8th Regiment at Leesburg, Virginia ... 23
Killing of Jim Jackson 25
My duties in command at Leesburg 26
Gaither's sensational reports 27
4TH South Carolina Regiment and Col. Evans 28
The invading army under General McDowell 31
Confederates under Beauregard 31
Johnston in Valley 31
1ST Battle of Manassas 32
Ordered to Manassas 32
Skirmish of i8th July 33
Gave Beauregard information of flank movement of
McDowell's plan of battle 33
Beauregard's order miscarried 35
McDowell's defeat overwhelming and panic greatest ever
Warder and Catlett's compliment 39
Beauregard's compliment 40
Visited my wife and son 42
Antonia Ford and others 43
Returned to Loudoun — Camp Berkeley 44
General Evans and 3 Mississippi Regiments 45
My attack of fistula 45
Battle of Leesburg or Ball's Bluff 47
E. V. White 48
LiGE White and Chas. Berkeley 53
Fifty of my men volunteer to go down and capture all
remaining soldiers 54
TABLE OF CONTENTS xiii
Captured 325 prisoners 55
Orders to attack Gorman at Edwards Ferry countermanded . 56
Retreat to Carter's Mill 57
Evans had in fight 1500 — The enemy lost over 2000 ... 57
Hummer and Peyton 59
Ordered to join my Brigade at Centreville 61
Royal reception there 61
General Philip St. George Cocke 61
Went to Richmond for operation 62
Evacuation of Manassas and Centreville 62
General Scott retired and General McClellan put in com-
mand OF Federal Army 63
McClellan goes to Yorktown 63
Evacuation of Manassas — I moved my wife and son to Lynch-
burg AND joined my ReGIMENT 63
General Johnston goes to Yorktown 64
The Confederate forces reorganized — Lieut. Col. Tebbs
DEFEATED — CoL. NoRBORNE BERKELEY IN HIS PLACE — ThRIFT
Pickett assigned to our Brigade 65
Battle of Williamsburg 66
Retreat continued to Chickahominy 66
i was granted sick leave 66
Battle of Seven Pines 66
Thrift mortally wounded, succeeded by Edmund Berkeley . 67
General Johnston wounded, succeeded by General Robert E.
Jackson in the valley 67
Left Lynchburg to join my regiment on June 25, 1862 —
Still sick 68
Battle of Mechanicsville June 26 68
Gaines Mill June 27 69
Battle of Frazer's Farm 72
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Battle of Malvern Hill 73
i was granted sick leave 74
Battle of Slaughter's Mountain 75
Battle of Second Manassas 76
Maryland campaign 79
Battle of Boonsborough Gap 80
Battle of Sharpsburg 80
Lee crosses back to Virginia 81
Pickett promoted — Col. Corse promoted and assigned to my
Corse assigned to another Brigade and I was again in command 81
BuRNsiDE succeeds McClellan 82
Battle of Fredericksburg 83
General R, B. Garnett assigned to our Brigade 84
Garnett's Brigade in North Carolina 84
burnside removed and hooker succeeded him 85
Battle of Chancellorsville 85
Jackson mortally wounded 85
Pennsylvania campaign 86
I WAS IN command of Brigade — Interview with General Lee
IN Clarke 86
Left Chambersburg on 2nd July 87
Fighting on ist July a great success 88
Meade in command of Federal Army 89
Little Round Top occupied by enemy 89
Charge of Pickett's Division on July 3 — I was wounded . . 90
Reflections on Gettysburg 93
North Carolinians did not reach enemy's line 93
General Lee on absence of Jackson 94
Longstreet to blame for loss of Gettysburg 94
General Gordon on Longstreet 95
Did Pickett charge with his Division? 98
Joined my wife and son loi
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Returned to duty — was commissioned Brigadier General . . 103
Took Brigade to Chaffin's Farm 103
Regimental commands 103
My Staff 104
Charles Linthicum — chief 104
My wife and son joined me 105
My sister Mary Brent later 105
Eppa appointed staff officer 105
Christmas dinner at Chaffin's 106
Eppa promoted by Militia Regiment 107
Butler appeared below Richmond 108
Grant in command of army of Potomac 108
Battle of Mine Run and Wilderness — Spottsylvania Court
Sheridan's raid on Richmond 108
General J. E. B. Stuart killed 108
I WAS SENT TO REINFORCE CAVALRY BUT ORDERED BACK TO FORTIFICA-
Joined main army at Hanover 109
My wife and son returned to Lynchburg 109
They lived on rations no
32ND Regiment — Col. Montague in
Battle OF Cold Harbor June 3, 1864 iii
Capt. Linthicum killed 112
Grant crossed THE James AND INVESTED Petersburg 113
Beauregard abandoned him at Howlett House to defend
Forced march of Pickett's DIVISION to take HIS place .... 114
Splendid charge to recover Beauregard's line 114
General Lee's undignified order 114
Major Drewry on this charge 115
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Remained below Howlett House 117
Siege of Petersburg 117
Battle OF Five Forks 118
Battle of Gravelly Run 118
My clothes riddled with bullets 119
i made forced march to reinforce pickett ii9
Petersburg and Richmond evacuated 120
Retreat of General Lee 120
Battle of Sailor's Creek 121
Kindness of General Custer to me after my capture .... 123
Carried to City Point 125
General Ewell's bad conduct 125
General Lee's surrender 126
Pickett dismissed from army 126
Sick — sick at heart, sick every way 128
Lincoln assassinated the night we left Washington . . . 130
Reached Fort Warren 130
Execution of Mrs. Surratt 131
Retrospect of the war and some of its Generals 132
General Turner's kind offer to my wife 134
My Brother Silas took my wife and son to Culpeper . . . 135
Death of General Gordon 138
Kindness of the Salters and Cliffords 138
Released from Prison 139
Our stay with Clifford 139
Started home — my arrival 141
I attended court on 1ST Monday in August, 1865, in dear old
Prince William 143
Located in Warrenton in September 143
TABLE OF CONTENTS xvii
Practice became quite large 145
Purchased Home from W. H. Gaines 145
Eppa went to Holcombs School and afterwards to University
OF Virginia 146
My mother died in 1866 146
My wife's mother died 147
Conduct of negroes during and just after war 147
Underwood convention 149
i became a candidate for congress i5i
8th District — counties composing it 151
Nominated and elected to 43RD Congress in 1872 151
Attempt to pass Force Bill 152
Democratic majority in House 154
Kerr elected speaker 154
My assignment to Committees 154
Virginia Representatives in 44TH Congress 154
Investigation of James G. Blaine 154
Mulligan Letters 157
Difficulty with Fry 159
Blaine elected to Senate 161
Blaine's probable guilt 161
TiLDEN and Hayes Presidential candidates 1876 162
TiLDEN elected — BUT DISPUTED 162
Efforts of Republicans to secure the disputed states for
Congress met — S. J. Randall speaker 163
Committee appointed by each House 164
Bill agreed on reported and passed 164
xviii TABLE OF CONTENTS
Conference of Democrats on the Bill 167
My speech . 167
Member of Commission selected 168
The commission — State of Florida 171
The Florida decision 173
Justice David Davis 175
Justice Bradley 175
Precedents for our contention 176
Reflections on Florida case 178
State of Louisiana before commission 179
Returning Board not legal because not full — authorities
Two OF Hayes electors held offices 185
Offer to sell to Tilden vote of Louisiana 185
What General Grant said about Louisiana 185
George F. Hoar in McClure's Magazine 186
It is NOT true 186
State of Oregon before Commission 189
Laws of Oregon 190
Case of South Carolina 191
Offer of proof by Democrats 191
House voted to sustain minority 192
roscoe b. conklin in louisiana case i92
TiLDEN's WANT OF NERVE I93
Hayes declared Tilden was elected 194
Result better than WAR 194
TABLE OF CONTENTS xix
Nominated and elected 2d and 3RD times to Congress .... 197
My contest with Barbour 197
Democrats again carried the House 198
Samuel J. Randall speaker — His bad conduct to me . . . . 198
Mr. John Goode for speaker 199
Changes in form of government of the District of Columbia 202
Bessie Marye Hunton, now Mrs. Charles Catlett .... 205
Purchased new residence 205
Eppa returns from University 206
Becomes my partner 206
Candidate for 46TH Congress — opposed for nomination by
Chap. Neal 207
I WAS nominated by acclamation 207
Had two competitors — carried every precinct except three . 207
46TH Congress — Chairman of District Committee .... 208
My conduct as such Chairman 209
My wife in Washington 211
I opened law office in Washington with Jeff Chandler . . 212
McGarahan case 212
Appointed Senator 214
Elected to fill unexpired term 216
Succeeded for long term by T. S. Martin 217
Tariff Bill in Senate 219
Cleveland's letter to Wilson 221
Currency question 222
Bryan and Free Silver 223
Party divided and Bryan defeated 223
McKlNLEY ELECTED 224
XX TABLE OF CONTENTS
Eppa married Erva W. Payne 227
She died October 9, 1897 227
About dear Erva . 228
I was confirmed 230
My wife died September 4, 1899 230
About dear Lucy 230
Eppa in 1901 married Virginia S. Payne 231
About dear Jincie 231
Eppa elected to convention 231
Partnership in Richmond 231
Sold my Warrenton property 232
Eppa's law firm 233
My health 233
I. Address at Reunion of 8th Virginia Regiment October
21, 1895 239
II. Correspondence with Columbus Alexander 253
III. Address of Judge James Keith presenting portrait of
General Eppa Hunton to Lee Camp Confederate
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
WAS born on the 22nd day of September, 1822, on my
father's farm, "Springfield," on the road from New Baltimore
to Thoroughfare, in Fauquier County, Virginia.
My father, Eppa Hunton, was the son of James Hunton, and
a grandson of William Hunton, both of said County of Fau-
quier. He was born January 30, 1789.
The Virginia branch of Huntons came from England and
settled in Lancaster County in the early history of the Virginia
colony about the year 1700. In the first half of the Eighteenth
Century William Hunton and two brothers left Lancaster
County, One brother settled in Albemarle County, one in
Madison County and William settled at "Fairview," near New
Baltimore, in said County of Fauquier. He married Judith
Kirk, and from them sprung many of the citizens of Fauquier
County. "Fairview" has always remained in the possession of
their descendants, and is now owned and occupied by Joseph G.
Hunton, a grandson — an old bachelor about eighty years old.
My grandfather, James Hunton, was their eldest son and resided
at "The Valley" adjoining "Fairview."
James Hunton married Hannah Logan Brown of King
George County, and had four sons and three daughters. My
father, Eppa, was the second son. He taught school for several
years in a school house near Old Broad Run Church, Fauquier
County. He purchased "Springfield," and married Elizabeth
My father was a very active business man, of the quickest per-
4 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
ception and promptest action. He was very popular and was
twice elected to the Legislature. He was a prosperous man and
at his death owned three good farms: "Springfield," "Mount
Hope" and a farm in Prince William County. He possessed
military qualifications of a high order, and was an officer in
the War of 1812.* He was at Bladensburg and Craney Island
and was a brigade inspector of the Virginia militia. He pur-
chased "Mount Hope" that he might be a mile nearer to New
Baltimore, where there was a fine academy for both boys and
girls. He died on the 8th of April, 1830, aged 41 years.
The Huntons of Virginia were remarkable for their intel-
ligence, hospitality, integrity and good conduct. The records
of the courts will be searched in vain to find any proceeding
against one of the name for any breach of law and order.
My mother was the daughter of William Brent. He lived in
Dumfries, and married Hannah Neal. Soon after his marriage
the Revolutionary war began. He raised a company and was
made its Captain. Fearing trouble to his family from the
incursions of the British up the Potomac River, he purchased
a farm in Fauquier County, near Bealeton, and moved his
family there. On this farm my mother was born, and married.
The Brents came to America with Lord Baltimore, and settled
in Maryland — said to be cousins of Lord Baltimore. Two of
them crossed the river and settled in Stafford County, Virginia.
One purchased "Richland," and the other "Woodstock," on the
Potomac, both very fertile farms. My mother descended from
the Woodstock Brent.
The Brent family is one of the most numerous in the United
*He was First Lieutenant of Captain William R. Smith's Troop of
Cavalry, from Fauquier County, attached to the command of Major
Thomas Hunton, Virginia Militia, according to the records of the Adju-
tant General, U. S. Army.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 5
States. Its members will be found in Virginia, Maryland,
Kentucky, Ohio, Missouri and many other States. They have
been noted for intelligence and patriotism.
My father had eleven children, to-w^it: Virginia Freedonia;
Hannah Neale; John Heath; Judith Ann; Silas Brown; James
Innis; myself; Elizabeth Marye; George William; Mary Brent
and Charles Arthur. The oldest and youngest died in infancy.
The others grew to maturity — some of them to old age — and
became useful and highly reputable citizens. My sister, Mary
Brent, the widow of Thomas R. Foster, and myself, are the
only surviving children. My father's estate wound up badly.
It took all his personalty, and his Prince William Farm, to pay
My mother, at the age of thirty-eight years, was left with nine
children, none of them grown, and comparatively poor. She
was the most anxious and devoted mother I ever saw, and ap-
plied herself to rearing and educating her children with a single-
ness of purpose and unselfishness never equalled. She was a
model mother, lived to a good old age, and saw all her children
(except the two who died in infancy), become useful and
reputable men and women.
I was educated almost entirely at the New Baltimore Acad-
emy. It was a most excellent institution of learning for that
day, presided over by the Rev. John Ogilvie. I was ambitious
from early boyhood to become a lawyer, and desired to obtain
a very good Latin and English education; but my funds gave
out and I had to borrow money to go to school the last year,
1839. I completed my English course, and then commenced my
Latin the ist of September, 1838, and finished the full course
of Latin by the end of 1839.
In 1840 1 taught school for Richard Rixey and Sylvester Welsh
at a log school house on the road leading from Warrenton to
6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
The Plains, near the latter town. I devoted my leisure time
during this year to the study of history, and was especially in-
terested in the history of England, from which I learned its
feudal system, on which the great system of the Common Law
The next year I opened a public school at Buckland, Prince
William County, Virginia. This was in the neighborhood of
John Webb Tyler, who afterwards became Judge of the Circuit
Court of that circuit. He sent five boys to me, and gave me
instruction in law gratuitously, and furnished me with the
books to read. I taught there during the years 1841 and 1842,
and in June, 1843, I obtained a license to practice law.
During the period of my stay at Buckland I boarded with my
brother, Silas B. Hunton, whose wife, Margaret, formerly Mar-
garet Rixey, was as kind to me as my own sister. Both promoted
my comfort in every possible manner, and both remained till
their death most affectionate brother and sister.
After getting a license to practice law, under the advice of
John Webb Tyler I determined to settle at Brentsville, the county
seat of Prince William County, which was a small town. There
was not a great deal of law business in that county, but there
were very few lawyers, and Mr. Tyler advised me to go there
and learn to practice, and then to move to some place where
business was better. I found but one lawyer at Brentsville —
Daniel Jasper — though there were two or three others in the
county, and the Warrenton lawyers always attended the courts.
I was slow in getting business in Prince William. Daniel
Jasper had preceded me nearly a year; he was a very active
man and a very sprightly, smart fellow, and got most of the
business for a year or two.
In the winter of 1847-48, John Webb Tyler was elected Judge
of the Circuit Court. Mr. Jasper and I were candidates to succeed
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 7
him as Commonwealth's Attorney. At that time the County
Court consisted of twenty or thirty magistrates, who elected the
Commonwealth's Attorney. The race between Mr. Jasper and
myself was a very close one. I was successful.
On the 14th of June, 1848, 1 married Lucy Caroline Weir, of
"Hartford," Prince William County, Virginia. She was the
daughter of Robert and Clara Boothe Weir. Her father was
of a highly reputable Scotch family; was for many years a
merchant of Tappahannock, Virginia; later in life he purchased
and occupied the "Hartford" farm in Prince William County.
He died about 1840, leaving his widow, three daughters and
two sons surviving him.
My wife's mother was a Miss Smith, of Williamsburg — a
granddaughter of Judge Benjamin Waller, who was also the
grandfather of Littleton Waller Tazewell, one of Virginia's
most distinguished men and most popular Governors. She was
the daughter of John Smith and Sarah Waller.
This marriage was a most happy one. My wife was in every
respect an affectionate, loving help-mate.
We remained with Mrs. Weir during the balance of the year
18^8. The farm "Hartford" was sold during the year, posses-
sion to be given the ist of April, 1849. I purchased a com-
fortable home in Brentsville, and went to housekeeping the first
of January, 1849. On the ist of April following, when Mrs.
Weir gave possession of "Hartford," she and her two daughters,
Bettie and Martha, came to us and made our house their home.
We were a happy family, and after adding to my house in
Brentsville I had a very comfortable and beautiful home, which
was destroyed by the Union soldiers in 1862.
Mrs. Weir was one of the nicest and most charming old ladies
I ever knew. I have often said that I had two of the best mothers
any man ever had. She was devoted to me and died in my arms
8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
in Warrenton, in 1870. Martha died at my house in 1882. Bettie
remained with me till the death of my wife. She is now with
her nieces in Clarke County, Virginia.
In 1852 a new Constitution was adopted by the State of Vir-
ginia, which aflected all the offices and made most of them —
Commonwealth's Attorney among them — elective by the people.
Jasper and myself were again candidates for the position of
Commonwealth's Attorney. It was a long, arduous and exciting
contest, resulting in my election by a large majority. I carried
every precinct in the county. I retained this office until my
absence from the county in the Confederate Army, in 186 1.
In 1848 I was elected Colonel of the Militia Regiment of
Prince William County, and in 1857 was elected Brigadier-
General of Militia, by the Legislature of Virginia.
On the 20th of June, 1853, my daughter Elizabeth Boothe
was born. She was as beautiful and sweet as a daughter could
be. The second summer, so fatal to children, took her from us.
We carried her to "Mount Hope," my mother's residence, for
a change of air. She improved notably. We returned to Brents-
ville in September, and on the 30th day of that month, 1854,
God took her to Himself. It seemed that he had loaned her to
us to brighten our home and cement our love. She was named
after her two grandmothers, and was much petted by them.
We grieved bitterly for the dear child. She was our only
On the 14th of April, 1855, my son Eppa was born. His
birth tended to moderate our grief for dear little Lizzie. My
son was named after my father and me. He still lives and has
been the greatest comfort to his mother and to me. He has
never given me an hour's trouble, except in smoking cigarettes.
He has become a lawyer of distinction, and is loved by all who
know him. I cannot be thankful enough for the gift of my
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 9
son. He has ever been affectionate and kind to me, and his
devotion to his mother was beautiful and touching. His life
has been interwoven with mine more closely than is usual with
father and son, and he will be often mentioned in this biography.
I was a Democrat from my earliest youth. My father before
me was a Democrat. All of the Hunton name were Democrats.
I took an active interest in politics from the time I was grown,
and was put upon the stump by my party in every presidential
canvass from 1840.
In 1856 I was one of the delegates to the National Convention
at Cincinnati. Franklin Pierce was President, and I favored his
renomination, though my ultimate choice was R. M. T. Hunter,
of Virginia. Mr. James Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was
nominated and elected.
During this period, up to i860, 1 had practiced my profession
at Brentsville, with some success. I got a good practice and
accumulated property. Excitement sometime before had begun
to run very high between the North and the South. The ques-
tion of slavery was the exciting cause. The North had the
largest territory and the greatest population, and became very
violent against the South on the question of slavery. Seward,
one of the leading statesmen of the North, declared that this
Union could not exist one-half slave and the other half free.
Scenes of turmoil and violence occurred in both houses of Con-
gress, and the patriotic and peace-loving man looked forward
with the utmost dread to the future.
In i860, the Democratic Party, which had been a unit up to
that time and had always managed to hold the balance of power,
was divided upon the "free-soil" question. The Party met in
convention at Charleston, South Carolina, April 23, i860, and
was divided between Douglas and Breckinridge — Douglas rep-
resenting the Northern "Free-Soil" wing, and Breckinridge the
10 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
"States-Right" wing of the Party. Violent scenes occurred in the
convention, and finally it was disrupted. Then two conven-
tions were held, one in Baltimore, which nominated Stephen A.
Douglas, of Illinois, and the other in Richmond, which nomi-
nated John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky. The old Whig
Party in convention nominated John Bell, of Tennessee. The
Republicans nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois.
These candidates were all men of great ability. Lincoln was
a rough man, and was called the "Illinois Rail Splitter." He was
one of the most vulgar men that ever attained high position in
the United States.
It soon became apparent that there was great danger of the
election of Abraham Lincoln, owing to the division in the
Democratic Party. This increased the intense feeling between
the sections. The people in many of the Southern States de-
clared in convention assembled that they would not remain in
the Union if the country elected a sectional president. I was
elector on the Breckinridge ticket and actively canvassed the
State of Virginia in the interest of that wing of the Democratic
At that time my wife became ill. She seemed to be suffering
with neuralgia of the liver, and subject to violent attacks of pain.
These attacks continued with more or less violence until 1862.
They interfered a good deal with my activity in politics. I was
very devoted to my wife, and she to me, and when she was ill
I wanted to be with her, and she desired my presence.
Abraham Lincoln was elected on November 6, i860. Although
he got only a minority of the popular vote he got a majojrity
of the electoral vote. The country from the Potomac to the Rio
Grande was at once convulsed with excitement. Several of the
"Cotton States" took early action for secession. James Buchanan
was the President. He was a good man, but timid. After the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON ii
"Cotton States" had all withdrawn from the Union they formed
the Confederate States government at Montgomery, Alabama,
with Jefferson Davis as President, and sent Commissioners to
Washington to treat with the Buchanan administration for
recognition as a nation. Mr. Buchanan promised time and again
that he would recognize them, but his timidity interfered, and
he postponed it until his term as President expired.
In the meantime Virginia had not taken any steps. Up to
the ist of January, 1861, she had made no movement towards
secession. Soon thereafter the Legislature, then in extra ses-
sion, passed a law calling for a convention to determine the
course of Virginia in the premises. The election was to take
place February 4, 1861. I declared myself a candidate for this
convention. Mr. Allen Howison, a very estimable Whig gentle-
man of the county, was a candidate against me. I was for
immediate secession. Mr. Howison was unconditionally for
the Union. I published a card in which I took the ground that
I was for immediate secession for the sake of the Union.
Elaborating my position I argued that if Virginia would go out
of the Union, at once, followed by some of the border states,
the movement would be so formidable that the United States
Government would not make war upon the Confederate States,
but that the doctrine which was held by a great many Northern
people, to "Let the erring sisters go in peace," would be adopted
even by the Lincoln Administration; and that when war was
avoided reconstruction would take place between the North
and the South on terms satisfactory to both sides, and perma-
nent. Of course my theory was but a theory, but I have always
thought that if war could have been avoided by an early secession
of all the Southern States, reconstruction would have taken place
satisfactory to both sides and permanent. I was elected to the
Convention by a large majority over Mr. Howison.
ATTENDED the Convention, and reached Richmond the
day before the session began on February 13th, and found the
city in an uproar. Everybody was excited. The women and
the clergy were a unit for secession. I never saw anything to
The morning I went to the convention, which was held in
the Mechanics' Institute, a building on Ninth Street near Main.*
I found the lower room crowded with ladies. We had to pass
through this room to get to the convention hall above. We
found it impossible to pass. I made an appeal to the ladies to
let me get by, explaining that unless the members of the con-
vention could get upstairs there could be no convention. One
of these ladies said to me, "Are you a secessionist?" I replied,
"If I had my way I would vote the State out of the Union to-
morrow morning before breakfast." She exclaimed, "Ladies,
let him pass; he'll do!" They made a way for me to pass, and
I went up to the convention.
I have often thought that if we could have seceded the next
morning before breakfast, how much better it would have been
than to waste the time from February until the 17th of April
in useless debate. How much preparation could have been made
in that time to meet the troubles ahead of us! But it was
not to be.
*It was used because the Capitol was being used for the extra session
of the Legislature. It was later occupied by the War Department of the
Confederate States and was burned at the evacuation of Richmond in
14 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
The Convention met and elected Mr. John Janney, of
Loudoun, President, over Mr. V. W. Southall, of Albemarle,
by a vote of 70 to 54. Both of them w^ere Union men, but the
secessionists favored Mr. Southall because he wsls considered less
opposed to secession than Mr. Janney.
The convention was dominated by the old Whig Party, most
of w^hom were Union men. The Democrats had had control
of the State of Virginia for many years. When the call for a
convention was made by the Legislature the Democratic can-
didates as a general thing took ground for immediate secession.
The Whigs, with more policy, took the ground that they were
for the Union, and desired to preserve it, but if the time came
when secession was a necessity they were for secession. They
did not believe Virginia would secede and they set to work to
revive the old Whig Party, which had so long been in the
minority in the State. It was represented by the grandest men
of the party, and as grand men as any in the State. They were
led by such men as John Janney, of Loudoun ; Robert E. Scott,
of Fauquier; Robert Y. Conrad, of Frederick; John B. Baldwin,
of Augusta; A. H. H. Stuart, of Augusta; Judal A. Early, of
Franklin, and many others.
I felt very much provoked at the conduct of these gentlemen.
I felt that the time which ought to be devoted to preparation
was being wasted ; but nothing could move them.
The secession party was in a comparatively small minority.
It was led by some of the ablest men in the State, such as ex-
President Tyler, Professor James P. Holcombe, Lieutenant-
Governor Montague, Henry A. Wise, John Goode, Jere Morton
and many others. We were all for immediate secession.
Henry A. Wise had an idea that we ought to make our fight
in the Union, and while he acted with us he always advocated
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 15
his doctrine of fighting in the Union. I never could exactly
understand how we could do it.*"
Just previous to the meeting of this convention there was a
Peace Congress held in the City of Washington, called at the
instance of Virginia, the object of which was to try if possible
to harmonize the differences between the two sections of this
country. It was composed of some of the best and ablest men
of the North and the South, but resulted in absolute failure.
When the Secession Convention met in Richmond, our delegates
to the Peace Congress, among whom were ex-President John
Tyler, of Charles City County, and George W. Summers, of
Kanawha County, now West Virginia, had just returned
Soon after the Secession Convention opened, George W.
Summers made a submission speech. He was for submitting to
any terms that the Northern people might impose upon us,
rather than to secede. He was replied to by John Tyler, who
told me afterwards that when he commenced his speech he did
not think he would live to finish it, on account of the feeble-
ness of old age. He spoke three days, and got better and better
as he went along, making one of the finest speeches in defence
of the South and secession that it was my fortune to hear from
The leading speech after Mr. Tyler's, in favor of secession, was
made by Professor James P. Holcombe, of Albemarle, who had
long been one of the professors of law at the University of Vir-
*JefJerson Davis expresses the same inability to understand how this
could be done. Rise and Fall of the Confederate States, p. 255. John
Marshall, however, suggested it as a possibility while advocating the
adoption of the Constitution before the Virginia Convention of 1788.
i6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
ginia. It was one of the finest speeches ever deUvered in the
State of Virginia. It was received with rapturous applause by
the secessionists on the floor and the audience in the galleries,
and gave immense pleasure to the people of the City of Rich-
mond and to the secessionists throughout the State. The ladies
for days banked his desk with beautiful flowers, and he was the
hero of the convention for a long time. He was replied to by
John B. Baldwin, one of the ablest men of the Union side. He
made a fine speech, taking the ground that there was no such
thing as the right of secession ; that if the time ever came for the
South to resist, it would have to be by revolution and not by
secession. This was the general doctrine of the Whig Party
of the State. His speech occasioned intense pleasure to the
Union side of the convention, but fell very flat in the City of
Richmond. There wasn't a lady of Virginia who sent him a
flower. There were three ladies wintering at the Exchange
Hotel in Richmond, from Massachusetts. They favored his
sentiments and sent him flowers.
For some time after the Convention met it was doubtful
whether the United States would make war on the seceding
states. There was a strong feeling in the Lincoln administra-
tion, and to some extent among the Northern people, to "Let
the erring sisters go in peace." At this time the Northwestern
Governors, headed by Oliver P. Morton, of Indiana, came to
Washington and insisted upon war upon the South, and the
administration was committed to that course.
On April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 troops to coerce the
seceding states back into the Union, and the question pro-
pounded to the Virginia Convention was whether Virginia
should furnish her quota to fight against the South, or secede
and fight for the South. The feeling of secession took possession
of the Virginia Convention. These old, able and patriotic
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 17
Whigs, who had so violently opposed secession, now became
earnest advocates of it, and after a few days debate in secret
session the ordinance of secession was passed, on the 17th day of
April, 1861, by a good majority, 88 to 55, and was finally signed
by every member of the Convention except a few from the
northwestern part of the State which is now West Virginia.
These left the Convention upon the passage of the ordinance
of secession, and became violent Unionists in the war.
The Ordinance of Secession is in the following words:
Ordinance of Secession
An Ordinance to Repeal the Ratification of the Constitution of
the United States of America by the State of Virginia, and
to resume all the rights and powers granted under said
The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution
of the United States of America, adopted by them in conven-
tion on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord, 1788,
having declared that the powers granted under the said Con-
stitution were derived from the people of the United States and
might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to
their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having
perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of
Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding
Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and
ordain. That the ordinance adopted by the people of this State
in convention on the 25th of June, in the year of our Lord 1788,
whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was
ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State ratify-
i8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
ing or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby
repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of
Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid
is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full
possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignity which
belong and appertain to a free and independent State.
And they do further declare. That the said Constitution of
the United States of America is no longer binding on any of
the citizens of this State.
This ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day,
when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this
State cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday
in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.
Done in convention in the City of Richmond, on the 17th day
of April, in the year of our Lord 1861, and in the eighty-fifth
year of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
W. M. Ambler James Barbour
E. M. Armstrong Ed. N. Chambers
W. B. AsTON George Blow, Jr.
John B. Baldwin James Boisseau
George Baylor Peter B. Borst
Miers W. Fisher Wood Bouldin
Wm. Hamilton Marginborg William W. Boyd
Hugh M. Taylor James C. Bruce
Johnson Orrick Benjamin W. Byrne
Logan Osburn Thos. Stanhope Fleming
Sam M. Garland William M. Forbes
George W. Richardson John T. Seawell
Henry A. Wise Geo. P. Taylor
J. T. Martin Wm. M. Tredway
Alfred M. Barbour Benj. F. Wysor
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Geo. W. Hull
w. t. sutherlin
Jas. W. Hoge
Robert C. Kent
R. C. Grant
Richard H. Cox
Stephen A. Morgan
A. F. Caperton
William C. Parks
Wm. Ballard Preston
Wm. Campbell Scott
W. M. Speed
John T. Thornton
John I. Kindred
Harry L. Gillespie
F. M. Cabell
S. L. Graham
Edw. D. McGuire
John A, Robinson
C. J. P. Cresap
James B. Dorman
Jubal a. Early
Napoleon B. French
Colbert C. Fugate
Fendall Gregory, Jr.
J. B. Miller
Horatio G. Moffett
Peter Saunders, Jr.
V. W. Southall
Ro. H. Whitfield
James G. Holladay
Henry H. Masters
Thomas F. Goode
George William Brent
Wm. H. B. Custis
W. T. Cooper
Robt. E. Cowan
Wm. L. Goggin
John Goode, Jr.
FiELDEN L. Hale
W. P. Cecil
John A. Campbell
John B. Chambliss, Sr.
Saml. a. Coffman
R. M. Conn
C. B. Conrad
Ross G. Conrad
Charles R. Slaughter
Alex. H. H. Stuart
Robert H. Turner
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
James H. Cox
Samuel G. Staples
James W. Sheffey
Geo. W. Randolph
President of the Convention and
delegate from Loudoun,
Leonard S. Hall
Lewis E. Harvie
Peter C. Johnston
Paul M. Noel
Edmund Taylor Morris
John Q. Marr
Algernon S. Gray
Angus R. Blakey
James P. Holcombe
John N. Hughes
Lewis D. Isbell
Walter D. Leake
Chas. K. Mallory
L B. Mallory
John L. Marye
R. E. Scott
J. D. Sharp
James MacGruder Strange
Wm. C. Wickham
Wm. H. Dulany
John Armistead Carter
M. R. H. Garnett
G. W. Berlin
Franklin P. Turner
J. M. Heck
Allen C. Hammond
Alpheus F. Heymond
John I. Kilby
Robert L. Montague
S. W. D. Moore
Wm. S. Neblett
Saml. C. Williams
Jas. V. Brooke
J. B. Young
One hundred and forty-three delegates of the convention
signed this ordinance. All those who had opposed secession,
except those from the immediate northwest, united in signing it,
and when both sides — Secessionists and Unionists — united in
signing the ordinance, it was a virtual and absolute surrender
of the doctrine maintained by the Whig Party prior thereto that
there was no right of secession in the State.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 21
When these distinguished and patriotic Whigs who had
opposed secession, signed this ordinance reciting that Virginia
had the right to secede, and that there had been abundant cause
given by the Northern government, for secession, the doctrine
of secession was thoroughly estabhshed in the State. It cannot
be imagined that these distinguished gentlemen would, by
signing the ordinance, commit themselves to political principles
which they believed to be unsound. I occasionally meet with
a Virginian who says there was no such thing as the right of
secession. I point him to this ordinance of secession and say
it is too late for anybody to maintain that doctrine after the
best men in the State not only agreed to the doctrine, but acted
I would like to give more in detail the proceedings of that
Convention, but they really consisted of useless debate up to
the time the ordinance was passed, and any interesting incidents
of a personal character that occurred have faded from my
Although the old Whig Party generally opposed secession,
when the ordinance passed that Party was as patriotic and as
devoted to the cause of secession as those of us who had been
originally secessionists. There was scarcely an exception, and
practically every man, woman and child in Virginia united in
supporting the State of Virginia against the Northern Army.
The Ordinance of Secession by the terms in which the con-
vention was called had to be submitted for ratification to the
people of the State. This was done in the midst of preparation
throughout the State for war and a large portion of the vote
upon its ratification was taken in the camps of the Confederate
soldiers. It was ratified by an overwhelming majority. May
While a member of that convention I made friends of some
of the most distinguished men in the State. I felt greatly com-
22 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
plimented by their friendship, and shall always think of it with
pleasure. Among these were Mr. President Tyler; William
Ballard Preston; Allen Caperton; Lieutenant-Governor Monta-
gue (who was President of the Convention after Mr. Janney
resigned); John Baldwin; John Goode; Thomas F. Goode;
Professor Holcombe; Jere Morton, and many others.
My wife and son were with me during the session of the
Convention, and we boarded at the Exchange and Ballard
Hotel. At this sarne hotel some Massachusetts ladies boarded,
and they had a little boy a little older and larger than my son
Eppa. This little Massachusetts boy was a violent Unionist,
and my son a violent Secessionist. They used to fight every day.
Eppa most always got the advantage in the fight, but one day
I was crossing the bridge which spanned the street between
the Exchange and Ballard House and found them in a fight;
Eppa had kicked at the little Yankee, and the Yankee caught
his foot and had Eppa hopping up and down in a pretty bad
way. I passed on and did not release him, but he finally released
himself and got the better of the boy.
I felt I could not hold a militia office, and I sent my resigna-
tion to John Letcher, who was then Governor, as soon as the
Ordinance of Secession was passed. I was always very much
gratified at the fact that every member of the convention accessi-
ble at that time (those from the northwestern part of the State
having withdrawn from it) signed a petition to the Governor to
appoint me a Colonel.* This petition was carried around the
*WhiIe helping my father in preparing his notes for this autobiography
it was suggested to me that perhaps the original petition to Governor
Letcher could be found in the Governor's papers in the State Library.
I spent several hours going through the letters and documents of this
period, but was unable to locate it in the State Library. Within a month
after my search of the records, the original petition was sent to my
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
convention by my distinguished friend, Ballard Preston. The
Governor sent word to me that he would have plenty of work
for me as Brigadier-General of Militia, and refused to accept my
resignation. I sent again a peremptory resignation, informing
him that if he would not appoint me a Colonel, I intended to
resign as Brigadier-General of Militia and go into the ranks as
a private. A few days thereafter I strolled up to the Fair
Grounds (now Monroe Park) and was sitting on the fence
watching the V. M. I. cadets drill the recruits. I was greatly
depressed and disappointed at not getting my appointment as
Colonel when Mr. Ballard Preston walked up to me and saluted
me as "Colonel Hunton." Governor Letcher had appointed me
Colonel of the Eighth Virginia Infantry. I was very much
Immediately after my appointment as Colonel of the Eighth
mother in December, 1929, by Mrs. William R. Castle, Jr., of Washing-
ton, D. C, a friend of hers whom she had known for several years while
staying at the Hot Springs, with the following note:
"I hope you will be glad to have this note. I found it where it
should not have been as it seems to me it belongs to Mr. Hunton
and to your son. I take great pleasure in sending it to you.
(Signed) Margaret Castle."
Mr. Castle was at one time Ambassador to Japan and is now (1932)
and for some years has been Under Secretary of State in the adminis-
trations of Presidents Coolidge and Hoover.
The petition to Governor Letcher follows:
"Richmond. May ist, 1861.
Dear Sir: The undersigned having understood that the friends
of Genl Eppa Hunton of Prince William will present his name to
your Excellency for some Field appointment under the ordinances
recently adopted by the Convention, beg leave to recommend him
most cordially to your favorable consideration. From an acquaint-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Virginia Regiment, I asked and was granted a leave of absence
from the Convention, and left Richmond to organize my regi-
ment in Leesburg, Loudoun County, Virginia, and to take
I had by the time the ordinance of secession was ratified eight
companies at Leesburg, and two were added thereafter. It was
composed of six companies from the county of Loudoun, com-
manded respectively by Captains William N. Berkeley;
Nathaniel Heaton; Alexander Grayson; William Simpson;
Wampler, and John R. Carter; one company from Prince
William, commanded by Captain Edmund Berkeley ; two from
ance with him in the Virginia Convention, we feel no hesi-
tation in expressing the opinion that his appointment would be
peculiarly fortunate for the public interests.
R. B. Borst
George Wm. Brent
John Q. Marr
G. W. Randolph
W. P. Cecil
Thos. G. Fleming
Lewis E. Harris
Jno. Goode, Jr.
Samuel G. Staples
John T. Seawell
Wm. L. Goggin
Wm. H. Macfarland
Saml A. Coffman
Robert H. Turner
C. R. Slaughter
Jas. M. Speed
W. C. Scott
G. W. Richardson
Ro. L. Montague
R. E. Scott
J. R. Chambliss
Alfred M. Barbour
Sam M. Garland
F. M. Cabell
Thomas F. Goode
Geo. P. Taylor
Jno. M. Forbes
L. D. Isbell
W. M. Ambler
F. Gregory, Jr.
A. S. Gray
Edm'd T. Morris
J. M. Strange
W. D. Leake
Jas. G. HoUaday
John T. Thornton
A. R. Blakey
Wm. Ballard Preston.
Mr. Castle, in a subsequent letter, told me that in reading the cata-
logue of an autograph dealer he was attracted by an item listed as an
autograph of President Tyler. From reading further, he found that the
item was the petition to Governor Letcher, and purchased the same
Eppa Hunton, IV.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 25
Fauquier, commanded respectively by Captains R. H. Carter
and R. Taylor Scott; and one from Fairfax commanded by
Captain James Thrift.
Captain Thrift did not join my regiment with his company
until the 23rd of July, and Captain Scott about ten days after-
wards, so that at the Battle of Manassas I had only eight com-
panies in my regiment.
On May 24th, the evening of the day after the Ordinance
of Secession was ratified, a regiment of United States troops
marched into Alexandria. The Marshall House, one of the
hotels of that city, was kept by James Jackson, who was a violent
secessionist, and had a secession flag flying from the top of his
hotel. He had pledged himself that he would kill any man
who cut that flag down. When this regiment of United States
soldiers marched into town and were informed that this secession
flag was flying, the Colonel of the regiment, Elmer E. Ellsworth,
of the First Zouave Regiment, New York Militia, detailed three
men and at their head marched up to the top of the Marshall
House and cut the flag down. As he returned down-stairs
Jackson killed him, and his squad immediately killed Jackson.
This was the first blood of the war in Virginia.
Besides my own regiment I had in my command at Leesburg
the Loudoun Cavalry, commanded first by Captain Shreve, and
afterward by Captain Meade; and a Loudoun battery com-
manded by Captain Rodgers.
A little later a Maryland company commanded by Captain
George Gaither, reported to me at Leesburg, and became tem-
porarily a part of my command. This was a very fine company
of soldiers, but its commander was absolutely worthless as a
military man, being excitable, emotional and unreliable in his
I devoted myself with great assiduity to arming, equipping
26 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
and drilling my regiment, and soon found that I had under
my command a body of as good men as could be picked in
Not a great while after I went to Leesburg and formed my
regiment, the United States forces appeared on the opposite side
of the river, under the command of General C. P. Stone, of
Washington City. This increased my labor in guarding the
approaches to the county. I had to keep a guard at all the
fords and ferries of the Potomac River within the County of
General Stone was a very superior man — a man of fine
intelligence and military attainments. He was a gentleman, and
conducted the war in the most gentlemanly manner. He would
not allow his soldiers to cross the river surreptiously and steal
property from the people of Loudoun, and if he found out any
such case he made them return the property. This did not suit
the excited indignation of the Northern people and those in
high command in the army. General Stone became unpopular.
Sometime early in June there was a fight gotten up between
my men and Stone's men across the river, neither party at-
tempting to cross. This was some distance up the river from
Leesburg, and as soon as I heard the firing I mounted my horse
and went to it. There were no casualties, and I soon discovered
it was nothing but a desultory firing across the river, and re-
turned to Leesburg. I was a little tired. My general health was
very poor. I laid down upon the lounge in my office and had a
very severe hemorrhage of the throat. This was followed by
many others, some of them quite copious.
When the Federal Army took possession of Alexandria it
captured all the cars and locomotives on the railroad from
Alexandria to Leesburg, except one train. This consisted of a
very fine locomotive and a large number of freight cars, and
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 27
was at the Leesburg Depot. General Lee, who was then on
duty in Richmond, directed me to burn these cars and destroy
the locomotive, so that the Union forces could not use them in
case they got possession of that country.* I took the liberty of
separating the freight cars from the locomotive and arranging
them so that they could be fired and burned, at a moment's
notice, and instead of destroying the locomotive I dismantled it,
and sent some of its important pieces into the mountains. I
reported to General Lee what I had done and he approved it.
Before the Union Army took possession of that country, this
locomotive was hauled across the country and put upon the
Manassas Gap Railroad at Piedmont (now Deleplane). It took
twelve yoke of oxen to move it, and it was used by the Con-
federates all during the war. I felt gratified that I had not
Captain Gaither, with his fine Maryland company, was
stationed at Edwards' Ferry to prevent any crossing from the
other side on the part of the Union soldiers. One night in
June about 12 o'clock I received a dispatch from Gaither that
the enemy was preparing to cross the river at Edwards' Ferry
in large force. I instructed him to keep a sharp lookout and
advise me if there was any real effort made to cross the river.
I received a sensational dispatch from him every half hour, in
which he said that the force was very large and was prepared
to embark across the river. At last he reported that the force
was crossing the river in large numbers, and he was about to be
surrounded and captured.
I could not conceive that all this was untrue, and I prepared
my command to fight or retire, according to circumstances ; set
fire to the freight cars, according to General Lee's orders, and
*0. R., vol. 2, p. 917.
28 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
marched to the edge of the town, towards Edwards' Ferry.
This was not long before day-break.
I heard nothing further from the enemy; Captain Gaither
presently appeared with his company unhurt. I concluded these
reports were untrue; sent to the river and found there had not
been a single effort to cross; no preparation to cross, and evi-
dently no idea on the part of General Stone of crossing the
river. I was very much provoked and deeply indignant and
mortified. I sent Gaither with his company away, and he re-
ported to General Joseph E. Johnston at Harpers Ferry. I went
back into camp and resumed my regular duties.
I was criticized for this, especially by the "Fire-side Generals,"
who said that I had become panic-stricken in Leesburg and
burnt up the cars. I never heard that any military man criticized
me. Every officer, however small his command may be, is
obliged to rely upon reports from those who occupy the position
of pickets. I had no reason to doubt Captain Gaither in any
particular and up to this time had thought very highly of him.
About the ist of July the 4th South Carolina Regiment was
sent to Leesburg, and with it came Col. N. G. Evans, of South
Carolina. The regiment was commanded by Col. Sloane.
Evans was sent along to take command of all the forces in
Loudoun. The South Carolinians boasted very strongly of what
they were going to do. They said they had come there to fight
the war and to conquer a peace. They did not want the Vir-
ginians to do any of the fighting, but just to stand back and look
on and furnish them with bread and meat. They would win
the independence of the Confederacy.
This talk was very captivating to the outsiders — especially to
the young ladies who had up to that time been very attentive to
the young men of my regiment, but they deserted us and went
over to the South Carolina boys bodily. They went so far as to
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 29
call mine the "Cornstalk Regiment," Our boys were "cast
down, but not dismayed." They pursued the even tenor of their
way, became very efficient in drill, and anxious to do their duty
as soldiers of the Confederacy.
About the 15th of July Col. Evans was ordered to take the
South Carolina Regiment back to Manassas, and I was left
again in command of the forces in Loudoun.
HE command of the Union forces organizing to make war
on the Confederacy in Virginia, was given to General Winlield
Scott, a renegade Virginian. He was old, about 75, and infirm,
and could not take the field. He designated General Irvin Mc-
Dowell to take command of the army that was being collected
south of the river, opposite Washington, in order to commence
While McDowell was collecting his army near Washington,
the Confederate Army was gathering at Manassas under the
command of General P. G. T. Beauregard. It was very appar-
ent when McDowell made his movement the objective point
would be Richmond, and that he would strive to reach Rich-
mond by going along the Orange and Alexandria Railroad
(now the Southern) to Gordonsville, and thence by the Central
(now the Chesapeake and Ohio) Railroad, to Richmond.
This was very obvious, because otherwise they could not have
gotten their supplies. Manassas, therefore, became a strategic
point, and it was apparent that the first struggle would be for
the possession of Manassas Junction. At that point the Manassas
Gap Railroad left the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, and went
through the Manassas Gap into the Valley of Virginia. It was,
therefore, an important point, and as fast as our troops reached
Richmond they vv^ere sent to Manassas.
While McDowell was preparing his army of invasion near
Washington, Gen. Robert Patterson was put in command of
the Union forces in the extreme lower valley; and General
Joseph E. Johnston was in command of the Confederates at
Winchester, with some 8,000 or 9,000 men to meet Patterson.
32 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Johnston sought to bring Patterson to a fight, and in the mean-
time McDowell got ready to move.
McDowell reached Fairfax Courthouse about the loth or 12th
of July. Our forces had occupied that point, and on the ap-
proach of McDowell fell back to Manassas. In a few days
McDowell moved his whole force to Centreville. The strength
of his army was estimated by Beauregard in his report of the
Battle of Manassas, at over 50,000 men.
McDowell was an accomplished soldier and a brave man, and
had under him such men as General Tyler, General Hunter,
General Miles and General Heintzelmann. All of these reached
distinction in the subsequent years of the war. This was a
formidable force, commanded by superior military men, almost
every one of whom was a graduate of West Point.
To meet this force Beauregard had at Manassas from 12,000
to 15,000 men. General Johnston had under his command at
Winchester about 8,000 men. It was arranged that Johnston
was to deceive Patterson in the Valley and bring his forces to
Manassas and unite with those of Beauregard. This would give
Beauregard a force of upwards of 20,000 men.
Beauregard was a fine soldier and in the Battle of Manassas
he had under him General Ewell, General "J^b" Stuart, General
Early, General Longstreet and General Kirby Smith. All of
these attained to high rank in the succeeding years of the war.
I was ordered to take my regiment and cavalry and artillery
down to Manassas. We left Leesburg on the i8th of July. One
of my companies in passing through the town put corn-stalks
in their muskets to remind the girls that they called us "The
Corn-stalk Regiment." Everybody knew that we were going
down to fight, and the girls were very sorry for what they had
said and wept sorrowfully about it. We reached Orris Buckner's
house on the evening of the 18th, and spent the night there.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 33
The next morning we heard of the fight that had taken place
at McLean's Ford.
I had been a resident of Prince WiUiam County for eighteen
years preceding the war, and knew of the bUnd-road that led
from Centreville to Sudley, and concluded that McDowell might
use that road in a flank movement on Beauregard's left. I sent
a picket of five mounted men some distance on this road. On
the morning of the 21st this picket was driven in, and reported
to me the advance of McDowell's army by this blind-road. I
immediately reported it to General Beauregard; and I believe
that this was the first information he had of McDowell's flank
General McDowell's first plan was to flank Beauregard on
his right. Examination of the broken ground on Beauregard's
right about Union Mills, satisfied McDowell that this was im-
practicable. He then formed a plan of battle of a most admirable
character, as follows:
A large force under the command of General Tyler was to
march up the turnpike from Alexandria to Warrenton to the
Stone Bridge across Bull Run, without attempting at that time
General Heintzelmann was to march to the Farmers' Ford
two miles above, without attempting to pass.
McDowell, with Hunter in command, marched on this blind-
road that led from Centreville to Sudley through a dense forest
known only to the people of the immediate neighborhood. His
plan was to march to Sudley and then down Bull Run, uncover
the force at Farmers' Ford, join McDowell's main body, drive
the Confederates from the Stone Bridge and allow General
Tyler to cross and unite with McDowell, and then with his
whole force march on Beauregard at Manassas. A compara-
tively small portion of his force was left at Centreville.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Nobody can doubt that this was a most admirable plan of
battle, Beauregard divined McDowell's first plan to attack him
on the right, and most of his force was upon that part of the
line. Early was down there; Ewell was there; Longstreet was
there — only a small portion of his command was up in the neigh-
borhood of the Stone Bridge, and none further to his left than
the Stone Bridge.
Beauregard did not divine the change of the plan of attack
on the part of McDowell until advised by me of the latter's
advance in that direction, but still looked for him to attack
McDowell's orders to his subordinates were to move at 2
o'clock in the morning, and to reach Sudley and the Stone
Bridge by daylight. There was great delay in the movement
of McDowell's troops. Tyler did not get to the Stone Bridge
until half-past 9 o'clock. McDowell did not get to Sudley until
Early in the morning Beauregard discovered this change on
the part of McDowell and made his arrangements to meet it.
I was stationed near the Lewis House, where I at once lost my
cavalry and artillery, which were placed in other portions of
I bivouaced near the Lewis Ford of Bull Run on the Lewis
farm, with the 49th Regiment, commanded by Colonel William
Smith. It was a great pleasure to be near this gallant, heroic
man. He was well stricken in years, but was always ready for
a fight. He was afterwards made Governor of Virginia for the
second time and Major-General in the Confederate Army, and
always was a man of great distinction in whatever position he
On the morning of the 21st, finding that McDowell had
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 35
changed his plan, Beauregard determined that he would cross
the run on his right and attack McDowell's left and rear at
Centreville. He sent an order to General Ewell, the ranking
officer, to make the movement at once. By some means never
yet accounted for, the order did not reach General Ewell.
Beauregard waited for the movement to take place, until he
finally heard that no order had reached Ewell, and that it was
too late then to make the move. He had to meet McDowell's
flank movement on his left. He hurried up his forces as best
he could. Colonel Evans, with Sloane's South Carolina regi-
ment and Wheat's Louisiana Tigers, was placed at the Stone
Bridge and successfully defended that place against the passage
of General Tyler.
General Johnston had gotten to Manassas on the night of the
20th, and ranking Beauregard was entitled to the command,
but with great generosity he told Beauregard that as he had
formed the plans for the fight he might execute them. He as-
sisted Beauregard throughout the day and gave him very ef-
ficient aid. Some of his forces from Winchester also reached
Manassas on the night of the 20th. Quite a number of them —
more than half — did not get there until the next day, on account
of an accident on the railroad.
I will not undertake to describe in detail this Battle of
Manassas. Suffice it to say that it was conducted throughout
most of the day with varying fortunes. The Union force out-
numbered the Confederates more than two to one. The heaviest
fighting was around the Henry and the Robinson houses, made
famous in the history of the fights. These houses were taken
and retaken twice or three times during the day.
My regiment was stationed behind a piece of woods, in reserve,
with Colonel Wade Hampton and his South Carolina regiment
^^ AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
near-by. The object of this was that we might be carried to any
point that was most threatened, especially to defend the Lewis
ford and the Stone Bridge.
When I reached Manassas I was put into the brigade com-
manded by General Philip St. George Cocke. This brigade
consisted of my regiment, the 8th; the i8th under Colonel
Withers; the 19th under Lieutenant-Colonel Strange; the 28th
under Colonel Robert Preston; but although we were brigaded
we fought entirely separately during the whole of the battle.
General Cocke ordered me to take a position in reserve. I
felt that I was no manner of use, and was deeply mortified that
I was held in sound of the fighting and not allowed to take part.
I sent word to General Cocke three times to let me go to the
front. He replied that I must hold my position at all hazards;
that it was a very important one. I could not see the importance
of it at the time. Colonel Smith, of the 49th Regiment, rode
by and when he saw me said: "What on earth are you doing
here?" I replied, "Nothing in the world, and I'm exceedingly
anxious to go to the front, but General Cocke won't allow me.
He ordered me to stay here and hold this position at every
hazard." "Well," said Colonel Smith, "General Beauregard
wants you at the front." I replied, "I want to go and will be a
thousand times obliged if you will report me to General Beaure-
gard and get him to give me orders to go to the front." He
said he would do it, and off he went.
At that time the Federal forces had been reinforced and had
made a desperate charge to recover the plateau on which the
Henry and Robinson houses stood, and were successful.
The Henry House after it was first taken by the Federal forces
was defended by Rickett's Battery and Griffin's, and other guns
besides. Rickett's Battery was probably the finest in the United
States, and it was taken and retaken two or three times during
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 37
the day, but when our people first took it they disabled the guns
and killed the horses and it was of no use to the Federal soldiers
when they recovered possession of it ; but they had captured the
Henry House pla':eau for the second or third time. Just at that
time General Beauregard sent a staff officer to me and ordered
me to the front at the Henry House. When I got there the
Federal soldiers were in possession of the plateau in large force,
but with Harper and Hampton, and a large number of others,
we charged upon the Federal forces, carried the place, drove
them entirely from the field, and held possession there for the
balance of the day. This was my first experience under fire.
Beauregard was very much aided by Kirby Smith, who had
been delayed in his passage from Winchester to Manassas by
this railroad accident, but when he reached Gainesville on the
2ist — which was on the same 'pike leading from Centreville to
Warrenton, and through the battlefield of Manassas, he heard
the guns and instead of going on to Manassas he made a forced
march down the turnpike, and struck McDowell in his right
flank, and aided very materially in winning the victory of the
McDowell's men never rallied after this last repulse from
the Henry House. A panic spread upon them, and such a scene
of confusion has never been witnessed on a battlefield. They
threw down their guns, refused to obey the orders of their of-
ficers, and ran pell-mell, each man going the same route by
which he came.
After I had united in this charge at the Henry House and
had repulsed the enemy, I drew my men back into a ravine
to protect them from stray bullets that were still flying over the
battlefield, and rode up on the hill where Beauregard and several
of his officers were discussing the movement of the enemy over
at the Pittsylvania House, some distance from us to the north.
38 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
The question they were discussing was whether it was a retreat
or a movement on our right. The enemy at that point was
moving in beautiful style. It was that portion of the Federal
Army which had the regulars in it. They had not broken at
that moment and were marching in very fine order. After
discussing whether it was a movement on our right or a retreat,
Beauregard said "It is a movement on our right and I must form
my lines back to the rear of my present line." He turned to me
and ordered me to take my regiment at a double-quick and
interpose between him and this approaching force of the enemy,
and to hold it in check as long as possible until he could form
his line in the rear.
It was a very ugly order for one regiment of eight companies
to hold that force, but I put my men at a double-quick and
found the best position I could; formed my line of battle, and
went to a higher point still to see what had become of this
marching column. To my infinite delight I found it had broken
all to pieces and was running, like the balance of McDowell's
I had up to that time passed with my soldiers for an exceed-
ingly pious man, but I lost my reputation as such, then and
there. After I discovered that this force that I thought I would
have to fight, had broken into pieces, I was extremely relieved
and galloped back to my regiment, only a hundred yards off;
and they said, and proved, that I proclaimed with a hearty oath
that the Yankees were running like dogs. I was utterly uncon-
scious of using an oath, but have no doubt I did. They proved
it on me conclusively, and I never recovered my reputation for
piety during the war.
The retreat of McDowell exceeded anything I have ever seen
or read of. His men threw down their guns, broke ranks,
wagons were in full speed going towards Centreville and the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 39
Stone Bridge was crowded with fugitives. A wagon broke
down on the bridge and it became blocked. This increased the
confusion. Our cavalry came to the front then and pursued the
enemy almost to Centreville, rendering very effective and valiant
No army ever fought more valiantly. No soldiers ever showed
more heroism than the Confederates under Beauregard at
Manassas. We had no regular troops. They were all raw.
None of them had ever participated in, or witnessed a battle,
and yet no regular soldiers ever performed such feats of valor
as Beauregard's men on that occasion. There is no instance that
ever reached me of any one, whether he was officer or private,
who did not fight as if his very existence depended upon success.
They were fighting for their homes; they were fighting for their
firesides; they were fighting for their rights, their wives and
I was very proud of the conduct of my regiment. When I
received the order of Beauregard to go to the front, every man
sprang to his feet with alacrity. We went at "double-quick,"
and every man in the regiment fought like a hero.
In an account of the battle, written by T. B. Warder and
James Catlett, soon after it took place, they said:
"The 8th Virginia, Colonel Hunton, bivouaced on the Lewis
Farm on the preceding night, and took position on the morning
of the 2ist by a strip of woods skirting a small branch running
along the west side of the Lewis hill and emptying into Bull
Run above the Lewis ford, and within a thousand yards of the
mouth of Young's Branch. From this position it was held in
readiness to march at a moment's notice to the support of the
regiment stationed at Beale's, or Lewis' ford, should the enemy
undertake to cross at either of these points. The enemy having
withdrawn from those fords, Col. Hunton marched his regiment
40 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
directly into the fight, drew them up into line immediately in
front of the enemy occupying the Henry hill, and charged with
other regiments engaged, directly towards the Henry House,
driving the enemy from its position on the hill back into the
road, continuing the charge, passing on either side of the Henry
House, until the enemy were completely routed and fled in all
"The coolness, courage and bravery evinced by these men is
worthy of all praise, and is a sure guarantee that in all future
conflicts with the enemy they will secure fresh laurels, and an
increased portion of their country's gratitude."
General Beauregard, in his admirable report of the battle*,
"Colonels Harper, Hunton and Hampton, commanding regi-
ments of the reserve, attracted my notice by their soldierly ability,
as with their gallant commands. They restored the fortunes of
the day, at a time when the enemy by a last desperate onset,
with heavy odds, had driven our forces from the fiercely con-
tested ground around the Henry and Robinson houses. Veterans
could not have behaved better than these well led regiments."
I felt very proud of my dear boys, and believe they felt proud
of me. I hope so.
While the cavalry was pursuing the enemy and bringing in
prisoners and horses, guns and artillery, the alarm was started
that an advance was being made upon our right at the town of
Manassas. I was ordered immediately to march with my regi-
ment to Manassas to meet this new movement. It was a false
alarm, and when I arrived everything was quiet. There was
no more fighting that night.
Beauregard's victory on the 21st of July demoralized the
*0. R., vol. 2, p. 500.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 41
Federal Army absolutely and entirely, and the question arose,
and has never been satisfactorily answered, why Beauregard
did not pursue the enemy and take Washington City? There
was scarcely an organized command in the retreat. Those that
had the spirit to fight were broken down. It is said that General
McDowell was in the saddle thirty-two hours consecutively and
when he reached Fairfax and attempted to write a dispatch to
Washington he fell asleep while writing it. I mention this to
show that there was nobody left that could fight, and it was
apparent to my mind that if they had been pursued with any-
thing like diligence and push we would have gone into Wash-
ington City without the loss of many men.
The streets of Alexandria were thronged with stragglers, with-
out officers and without organization, and it was said, I don't
know how truly, that the administration was packing up its
archives and getting ready to leave in case of attack made by
It was said that our commanding officers, Generals Johnston
and Beauregard, did not make the pursuit because they did not
have the transportation; but that was a wholly insufficient reason.
I judge the balance of the army very much by my own regiment.
We would have marched to Washington without a mouthful
to eat, and without a wagon to carry anything for us, and the
temper of the army was like the temper of my regiment. They
would have gone without a whisper of objection, and without
the slightest hesitation. I know a good portion of Beauregard's
army was more broken down than my regiment, because they
had fought longer during the day, but still they could have
gotten a little sleep and followed us in time to have appeared
before Washington the next morning. But it was not to be.
Our boys who had fought so valiantly and won such a glorious
victory, concluded that the war was over, and every man of
42 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
them wanted to go home. A victory is demoralizing, as well as
a defeat, and it was sometime before we could reduce the Con-
federate Army at Manassas to order and discipline. The soldiers
did not believe that there would be any more fighting.
When the State of Virginia seceded from the Union we be-
lieved that we had a perfect right to withdraw, and had no
intention in the w^orld of disturbing the Union forces, or inter-
fering with the United States Government in any way; and if
they had remained on the north side of the Potomac, we would
have kept our place on the south side, and there would have
been no shedding of blood. All that Virginia asked was to be
let alone, to pursue her course under the new order of things
brought about by secession.
When the Federal Government invaded the State of Virginia
without provocation, and undertook to drive our people away
by violence and force, and opened their guns upon us, to
slaughter them by w^holesale, there is no wonder that our people
fought with desperation.
I wished to embrace this opportunity to pay a visit, however
short, to my wife and son at Brentsville, only five miles away.
When I applied to Beauregard he refused positively to let me
go. I said I wanted to see my wife. He said "There are no
such things as wives now; you are wedded to the Confederate
cause." I applied again the next day, and he gave me four hours.
I made the quickest time on record, on my splendid war horse
"Morgan," and spent two hours and a half with my wife and son.
My wife's health had been very poor. She had suffered very
much from disease, and still more from anxiety for her husband
and her country. She was in sound of the fighting of the 21st,
and laid down and put a feather pillow over her head to keep
out the sound, but she heard the firing — not only the artillery
but the musketry — all day long, and knew that I was in the fight.
Her anxiety can be better imagined than described.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 43
When we went down from Leesburg to the light at Manassas
Major Norborne Berkley, afterwards Colonel of the Regiment,
insisted upon taking a daguerrean saloon, an old-time photo-
graph gallery on wheels, as my headquarters. I reluctantly
agreed to it, and with four horses we got the saloon down to
Manassas. After the fight was over and I moved my regiment
to the little town of Manassas, I occupied the saloon as my head-
quarters. It rained heavily the next day after the fight, and the
old saloon leaked dreadfully. It was supposed by the victorious
army of Beauregard to be an enterprise of some daguerrean
artist, and hundreds of soldiers came to my headquarters to
have their pictures taken to be sent home to their wives, their
sisters, their mothers or their sweethearts. I was very much
annoyed by it, and on our return to Leesburg the old saloon gave
out and broke dov/n about every five miles, and v/e had to incur
a delay to repair it ; but we finally got it back, to my very great
relief. I never fooled with a daguerrean saloon as headquarters
during the balance of the war.
There is a romance connected with the Battle of Manassas.
When General Beauregard had his army at Fairfax Courthouse
there were there four noted rebel girls. They were very beau-
tiful, attractive and violent in their declarations of loyalty to the
Confederacy. They could not tolerate the bare mention of a
Yankee soldier. When Beauregard retired and was succeeded
by the Federal army these four girls became, strange to tell, as
great belles with the Yankee officers as they had been with the
Confederate officers. They were Antonia Ford ; Florence Brent;
Dollie Waters and Miss Zimmerman of Alexandria. Before
the war ended all four had married Yankee officers. They
had not only forgotten to hate, but learned to love a "Yankee."
The most noted of the four was Antonia Ford. She was so
much admired by the Yankee officers and had so much influence
over at least one of them, that she obtained their military
44 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
secrets — learned their plans and when they meant to attack
Beauregard at Manassas. She was then still a "stout Rebel."
She made her way through the lines and met General }. E. B.
Stuart with his gallant cavalry, and disclosed to that valiant
soldier the Yankee plans. General Stuart, with the gallantry
that distinguished him, appointed her on his staff.
Shortly after the battle she became homesick. In attempting
to pass the Federal lines she was captured and sent to the old
Capitol prison as a spy. Major J. E. Willard, of the Commissary
Department, saw her; fell violently in love with her, procured
her release, and married her. He was rich then, and became
afterward enormously wealthy. She died early, leaving one
son, Joseph E. Willard, who was raised by his mother's family.
He has always resided in Virginia — has become one of its best
citizens, is now Lieutenant-Governor, and a candidate for Gov-
ernor. He has inherited his father's immense wealth and fills
with ability all the positions assigned to him.
We made our march to Leesburg, the citizens all along the
road greeting the victorious soldiers with tumultuous joy, and
welcoming their safe return to the County of Loudoun.
We stopped on the south side of Goose Creek, at Ball's Mill.
I named my camp "Camp Berkeley." This was in compliment
to four brothers: Norborne Berkeley, who was the Major of the
regiment; Captain Edmund and Captain William Berkeley, and
Lieutenant Charles F. Berkeley. They were four of the bravest,
noblest, most patriotic and unselfish men I met in the war. They
were always ready for any duty they were called upon to per-
form, and always did it with alacrity, courage and efficiency.
I have always been thankful that the four brothers survived the
war. One of them, Charles F. Berkeley, died soon after the war
ended, with consumption.
After remaining at Camp Berkeley a while I moved my regi-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 45
ment to Claggett's field, near the town of Leesburg. We were
all perfectly delighted to get back to dear old Loudoun, and the
people were all delighted to see us. They were amongst the best
people I ever saw. A portion of them were disloyal to the Con-
federacy, but these were Germans and Quakers. Their religious
belief put them in opposition to the war, and finally put them
on the other side in hostility to the Confederate forces. With
the exception of these the people of Loudoun were a unit in
support of the Confederate cause, and sent as many troops, in
proportion to the population, as any other part of the State.
I was then again in command of that portion of the country
embracing Loudoun County and the Potomac River from
Harper's Ferry to Drainesville. Not long afterward General
Beauregard sent to Leesburg, under the command of General
N. G. Evans (who behaved so gallantly as Colonel, in the Battle
of Manassas, and for which he was promoted), the 13th, 17th
and 1 8th Mississippi Regiments. These regiments had recently
arrived at Manassas, and very many of the soldiers were laid up
with the measles. They were sent to Leesburg to increase the
force there, and to give the sick soldiers a chance to get well in
that fine country. Evans, now General, was then in command
of these Mississippi Regiments, my own regiment, a portion of
cavalry, and one battery of the Richmond Howitzers.
Soon after this I was taken with a violent attack of fistula.
I suffered from this trouble during the entire war, and, although
I was operated on several times, it never healed until after the
war. I suffered intensely, and was laid up in Leesburg for some
time while my regiment was six or eight miles to the west of the
town. I was attended by Dr. Armistead Mott, of Leesburg.
Under his advice, about the loth of October I borrowed a spring
wagon from Mrs. George Carter, of Oatlands, hitched my war
horse, old "Morgan," to it, and went down to my brother's,
46 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Silas B. Hunton, at "Mt. Hope." I had to put my camp bed into
this wagon, and was carried there on the bed. I found my dear
wife and son, my dear mother, and my youngest sister, Mary
Brent, with my brother and his wife. I was attended while there
by Dr. Edgar Moss, who married my cousin Mildred Hunton
and lived two miles away, at the old Hunton residence — the resi-
dence of the first Hunton that ever located in that county.
I did not get any better, I suffered very severely the whole
time. It was a satisfaction to be with my wife and son, and
mother, brother and sisters. About the 17th or i8th of October I
became satisfied that there was a movement on foot in the army,
and a fight impending. I announced my determination to re-
turn to my regiment. It was violently opposed, but I felt it to
be my duty to make an effort to go with the brave boys who had
stood so nobly by me at Manassas. I put my bed in my wagon
and took leave of them all, and lying down made my trip to
Leesburg. General Evans had become afraid of a flank move-
ment up the Aldie Turnpike, which ran from Alexandria, by
Fairfax Courthouse and Aldie, to the Snickersville Gap of the
Blue Ridge Mountains. To avoid the danger, as he believed,
arising from this flank movement, he retreated to Carter's Mill,
about five miles from Leesburg. As soon as he reported this
movement to General Beauregard, Beauregard wrote him a
strong letter in which he told Evans that Leesburg must be held
at all hazards, and that he must return to Leesburg or send force
enough there to hold the place.
It was evident to Beauregard at that time that General Stone,
who was still in command across the river, wanted to force or
maneuver Evans from Leesburg, join a force sent up the
Aldie Turnpike, and flank Johnston and Beauregard at Centre-
ville and Manassas ; and for this reason Beauregard was exceed-
ingly anxious that Evans should hold Leesburg. Upon receiving
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 47
this letter from Beauregard, General Evans moved his force
back to Leesburg. He put the three Mississippi regiments down
between the Burnt Bridge,^ which was a bridge over Goose Creek,
on the Little River Turnpike, and Edwards' Ferry.
On the evening of the 19th when I reached Leesburg, I found
my regiment camped in Claggett's field where I had left it.
I can hardly describe the joy of my soldiers at my return. At
that time they didn't feel like they could fight under anybody
but myself, but they soon learned to fight willingly and gallantly
under any leader. Lieutenant-Colonel Tebbs, who had been
assigned to the regiment sometime before the Battle of Man-
assas, was considered by them too excitable for a safe com-
mander. They had trusted and tried me at First Manassas;
I had managed them well, and taken care of them, and under
my guidance they had been highly complimented by Beauregard
in his report.
The next morning, on the 20th, we were ordered to the Burnt
Bridge over Goose Creek. This was intended by General Evans
to meet the movement of General McCall, who was reported to
be advancing with a large force of the enemy up the Little River
Turnpike, and whose heavy cannon we could hear at intervals.
It turned out that this movement of McCall's was a mere
reconnaissance in force.
In the meantime. Stone sent across the river at Edwards' Ferry
a regiment, or brigade, under the command of Colonel Gorman.
The three Mississippi Regiments were placed to meet this force.
It developed that Stone's plan was to make this demonstra-
tion at Edwards' Ferry, while he crossed a larger force at Har-
rison's Island, where he expected to find but little opposition,
and when he had overcome the small force at Harrison's land-
ing, or Ball's Bluff (as the place on the Virginia side was called),
he would march down the river, attack the Confederates in the
48 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
left flank, at Edwards' Ferry, while Gorman took them in front,
and drive Evans and his command away from that country.*
Early on the morning of the 21st a portion of Colonel Deven's
15th Massachusetts Regiment crossed the river at Harrison's
Island and undertook to find out what force General Evans
had around Leesburg. They encountered Duffs company of
the 17th Mississippi, and were badly used by Captain Duff.
Lieutenant-Colonel Jennifer, with four companies of infantry —
one from the 13th, one from the 17th and two from the i8th
Mississippi Regiments, and three companies of cavalry, went
to the support of Captain Duff. He then had a force of about
325 men under him. Colonel Devens had also been reinforced,
and his command amounted to about 800 men.
There was heavy skirmishing between the two opposing
parties for about an hour, when Colonel Devens retired. The
Federal force was then increased by the 20th Massachusetts
under Colonel Lee; the 42nd New York under Colonel Cogs-
well (called the Tammany Regiment); the ist Rhode Island
Artillery, consisting of two smooth bore and one rifle cannon —
all under the command of General Baker. This swelled Gen-
eral Baker's force to about 2,000 men. They were posted in a
strong position on the further side of a small clearing in a large
body of woods. I was ordered to leave one company — Capt.
Wampler's — at Burnt Bridge and meet this force. I ordered my
gallant regiment to advance in line of battle through the woods;
found there were no Confederates in my front, and threw out
a line of skirmishers. This line of skirmishers soon struck the
enemy. I pushed my regiment on as vigorously as possible, and
struck Baker in line of battle at the further end of the woods.
♦See Appendix I, p. 237.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 49
This was a strong position. It was at the crest of a hill. The
ground ascended up to the edge of the woods, and descended
from it across a small open field of about ten acres.
I charged this line of battle with the Confederate yell, and
although nearly four times as strong in numbers as my com-
mand, after a hard fight we drove them from this strong posi-
tion and occupied it myself. General Baker retired his com-
mand to the farther part of this little cleared field. His men
fought very gallantly, and his three pieces of artillery played
upon us, though with but little effect, during the whole of the
fight for this position.
I was assailed repeatedly during the day and had to fight hard
to maintain this position, but it was a very strong one and a very
well protected one in the edge of the woods, and when we would
fight and drive them back I would retire my line of battle some
twenty yards, and obtain the protection not only of the woods,
but of the crest of the hill.
The fight kept up between Baker and my regiment for several
hours. Lieutenant-Colonel Jennifer with his cavalry occupied
a position on my left and made me feel safe against any flank
movement in that direction. He did little or no fighting after
I reached the ground. A Company of the Richmond Howitzers,
as gallant and skillful a body of men as ever met the enemy,
were of no use because we were fighting in the woods and
there was no position which they could take to reach the enemy,
so I had to receive the artillery fire of the enemy, without any
return artillery fire from us.
E. V. White, a private in Captain Mason's company of
cavalry, then on the river near Harper's Ferry, soon reported to
me for any duty he could perform. I found him most valuable,
intelligent, efficient and brave. He was the owner of a farm
50 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
at White's Ferry, a few miles above Ball's Bluff, and knew every
foot of the country intimately. I made very much use of him
during the day.
About half -past two o'clock I felt certain that the enemy was
being reinforced and I sent E. V. White (known to all of us as
"Lige" White) to General Evans to send me reinforcements,
the three Mississippi Regiments still being in the neighborhood
of Edwards' Ferry. "Lige" White came back with a message
from General Evans, "Tell Hunton to fight on." I did fight on,
but it soon became apparent that Gorman, at Edwards' Ferry,
did not mean to join the fray. He was evidently placed there
to act when Baker had carried Ball's Bluff. My ammunition
was getting low, and I sent Major Berkeley twice or three times
to General Evans for a supply. I got none at all, and no excuse
for the failure to send it. At 3:30 I again sent "Lige" White to
General Evans to inform him that my ammunition was ex-
hausted, and unless I was reinforced and supplied with am-
munition I would be unable to hold my position. General Evans
replied, "Tell Hunton to hold the ground till every damn man
As I have stated, when I met the enemy at the edge of the
woods and repulsed them on several occasions, I retired my
regiment some fifteen or twenty paces for the protection of the
ground and the woods. Lieutenant-Colonel Tebbs and a portion
of the regiment misunderstood one of these orders and when
I ordered them to retire to this protected position they thought
it was an order to retreat, and Colonel Tebbs and a large portion
of the regiment left the ground. I was not apprised of it. No
company retreated in full — only portions of certain companies
retreated. When "Lige" White was returning to me with the
message from Evans to fight until "the last man fell," and with
the further information that he would send me the 17th and
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 51
i8th Mississippi as reinforcements, he found Colonel Tebbs and
those of the 8th Regiment that had retreated with him, some
four or five hundred yards in rear of the line of battle. He
asked Colonel Tebbs what was the matter — if I was whipped.
Colonel Tebbs said that he didn't know, but that he under-
stood me to order a retreat. It looks a little curious that this
portion of my regiment should leave the fight, and leave more
than three-fourths of it behind and believe that I had ordered
a retreat; but still, Colonel Tebbs was a highly honorable man;
I had no reason to doubt his courage, and I determined to ac-
cept his statement.
"Lige" White immediately galloped up to me to know what
was the meaning of Colonel Tebbs and these men being out
there at the rear, and if I had ordered a retreat. I said, "No, go
and bring them right back to the line of battle." "Lige"
galloped back to Colonel Tebbs, and as soon as he convinced
him that I was still fighting, and not retreating. Colonel Tebbs
and a portion of the men with him returned to the line of battle.
Some of them went home, but not many.
Colonel Burt, of the i8th Mississippi, came up on my right
and formed his line of battle about three hundred yards from
me. Before he reached the ground I had determined to charge
the enemy. Many of my soldiers were without a cartridge.
I made them divide up so as to give each man one, and deter-
mined to charge and rely on the bayonet. It was a most gallant
and splendid charge. We drove the enemy before us with great
gallantry, and pushed them into the woods that skirted and
concealed the bluff just above the bank of the river.
I halted my regiment for the purpose of giving them a chance
to breathe. They had been fighting from half-past twelve
o'clock till night and were nearly exhausted. In the meantime.
Colonel Featherstone, of the 17th Mississippi, had formed his
52 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
line of battle between me and the i8th Mississippi. The i8th
Mississippi charged the enemy with great gallantry, led by
Colonel Burt, one of the best men of the Mississippi regiments.
They were met by a galling fire from a portion of the enemy
behind a natural earthwork, and at the first fire the i8th Missis-
sippi Regiment suffered very heavily — indeed suffered all of its
losses in that one fire. Colonel Burt himself was mortally
When I halted my regiment I found that the 17th Mississippi
had formed their line of battle in the edge of the woods, and I
rode back and said, "Colonel Featherstone, for God's sake charge
the enemy and drive them down the bluff." He said, "I don't
know the ground." I said, "I will lead you." He said, "I don't
want anybody to lead us ; I want a guide." "Lige" White appeared
at that moment, as he always did when he was most needed,
and I said, "Lige, my boy, lead these men into the fight." He said,
"With the greatest pleasure." He placed himself in front of
the 17th Regiment, and Colonel Featherstone gave the order to
charge, and they made an exceedingly gallant charge. The
17th and 1 8th together drove the enemy in front down the bluff,
and the fight was over. It was then nearly dark and my regi-
ment had been fighting from half-past twelve to nearly six
o'clock, after a forced march from the Burnt Bridge.
My regiment was a small one, and under orders from General
Evans I left one company under the command of the gallant
Wampler, to watch the Stone Bridge in case there should be any
advance up the Little River Turnpike. Wampler was dread-
fully mortified at not being allowed to go with us to the fight ;
so that my regiment consisted of only nine companies. I thought
it probable that there might be another force across the river
above me on my left, and I sent Captain R. H. Carter with his
company, guided by the intrepid "Lige" White, to ascertain if
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 53
there was any organized force to my left. This duty was well
performed, and Captain Carter reported that there was no or-
ganized force on my left.
I detailed Lieutenant Charles Berkeley, with fifteen men, to
guard the bluff; directed Lieutenant-Colonel Tebbs to retire the
regiment to the open ground in rear of the woods in which we
had fought, so that they might get some rations and rest. I had
not laid eyes on General Evans from the time I passed him at
Fort Evans, till the fight ended. He was not in sight of the line
of battle during the day.
It may be very well understood that in my state of health,
I was in no condition to stand the fatigues of the day. Afflicted
as I was and scarcely able to ride, I was in the saddle or fighting
line from half -past twelve to near six o'clock. I was nearly dead.
Mr. Smart, from Leesburg, drove out to the battlefield with a
little spring wagon, took me in his wagon and carried me to his
house in Leesburg, where I spent the night.
The losses in this fight were remarkably small. The 13th
Mississippi was kept in front of Gorman at Edwards' Ferry,
and lost none on the 21st. The 17th Mississippi Regiment lost
very few. The loss of the i8th Mississippi was the largest, and
that was all in the one fire from the enemy from behind this
natural breastwork. It lost in killed and wounded more than
any other regiment engaged. My loss was very small, owing to
the protection that I gave my men behind the crest of the hill,
and the woods.
The enemy's loss was much larger. In the fight the heaviest
loss fell upon the ist California Regiment. In the charge made
by the 17th and i8th Mississippi, quite a number of the enemy
were captured. That night "Lige" White was with Charles Berke-
ley picketing the bluff, and they determined that they would
go down to the river bank to see what was going on. They
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
found quite a number of men there of Baker's command, in a
thoroughly disorganized condition, their transportation to and
from Harrison's Island consisting of a few little boats; some of
them from overcrowding had sunk, the officers deserted their
men; and there was scarcely anybody but privates on the Vir-
ginia bank of the river when "Lige" White and Lieutenant
Berkeley got upon the ground; but they were endeavoring to
get back to Harrison's Island as fast as they could, and many
of them in their efforts to return to the Island were drowned.
Lieutenant Berkeley and "Lige" White concluded that a very
small force could capture the whole party on that part of the
river. They went back to Col. Tebbs and asked him to march
his regiment down to the water's edge and capture all that were
there. Col. Tebbs replied that the men had been fighting all
day long, and were too much worn out to be ordered to do
further duty, but that if there were any willing to volunteer he
would give his consent; and thereupon fifty men volunteered.
Their names ought to go down to history, and I will try to
Captain Edmund Berkeley
Captain William N. Berkeley
Lieut. Robt. H. Tyler
Lieut. L. B. Stevenson
Lieut. Robert Coe
Sergt. F. Wilson
A. S. Adams
F. A. Boyer
G. R. Griffin
Sergt. J. O. Adams
Sergt. P. S. Gouchnouer
Corp. B. West
Corp. W. Fletcher
Corp. B. Hutchinson
Corp. William Thomas
B. L. Hickson
J. F. 1st
W. C. Thomas
J. M. McVeigh
M. H. Lockett
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
R. O. Carter
J. R. Adams
J. L. Ginn
B. S. Townes
T. W. Hutchinson
R. I. Smith
J. W. Tavenner
L. W. Lockett
A. M. O'Bannon
Rev. Chas. F. Linthicum
T. E. Tavenner
T. K. Weil
V. R. Axtell
T. H. Austin
V/ilmer J. ElHs
J. N. McCannihan
C. D. Lockett
They promptly volunteered to follow Lieutenant Berkeley and
"Lige" White. When they reached the river bank and made
a demonstration, they demanded a surrender. There was but
one officer among them and he wanted to know who was in
command, and Captain William N. Berkeley replied General
White was in command. The officer said, "General White,
what terms will you give my men?" "Lige" replied, "I will
give them the terms of war." "Lige" at that time was not very
much up in military technicalities. After a few moments he
accepted "Lige's" terms of war, and the whole party surrendered,
and were sent into Leesburg. The prisoners thus captured num-
A very curious incident occurred during the fight. Charles B.
Wildman, of Leesburg, was either permanently or temporarily
upon General Evans' staff. He was a very gallant, fine fellow,
but addicted to intemperance. He was quite under the influence
56 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
of liquor that day. In riding around he came across a body of
the enemy and mistook them for Confederate soldiers. He rode
up to them and pointing out a body of Confederates in the
distance he ordered them in the most peremptory manner to
charge. They, believing that he was a staff ofi&cer of General
Baker, obeyed the order and made the charge, losing quite a
number of their men in the repulse which followed. Charles
Wildman escaped injury.
General Evans left Fort Evans after the fight was over and
went to the hotel at Leesburg, where he was reported to be very
drunk. It was said that he was drinking freely during the day.
The next morning General Evans put Captain Singleton, of the
17th Mississippi, with his company, in charge of the prisoners
to take them to Manassas. They were encamped at a mill below
Leesburg, and next morning General Evans sent an order to
Captain Singleton to tie the prisoners, and sent out three or
four plow lines — not more than enough to tie a dozen. This
was a very unusual and unjustifiable order, especially so far as
the officers were concerned. The officers that were captured in
that fight, embracing two colonels — Cogswall and Lee — were
exceedingly gallant men, and were entitled to all the best usages
of prisoners of war. They ought to have been paroled and
marched with the other prisoners under parole as they pleased.
Captain Singleton refused to obey the order to tie the prisoners,
and marched them with as much humanity as he could, down
to Manassas and turned them over to General Beauregard.
General Evans gave orders the next morning that we were
to sleep upon the battlefield that night — that is, the night of
the 22nd — and attack Gorman at Edwards' Ferry at daylight on
the 23rd. I was delighted to receive this order, and I knew
that the whole of Evans' force could capture with but very little
loss, a force that was held up all of the 21st by one of the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 57
Mississippi regiments. To be in place to make this attack on
the morning of the 23rd at dayUght, as poorly as I was I went
out and slept with my men on the ground. I waited impatiently
for the order to march and attack this force under Gorman, and
at sunrise Evans ordered a retreat. I never was so mortified in
my life. We were ordered to retreat to Carter's Mill, under
the delusion that he, Evans, was being flanked up the Little
I shall never forget my feelings in going through the town
of Leesburg. I stopped and took breakfast with Mr. Fadely
and could scarcely look the ladies of the family in the face.
I felt that we were cowardly giving up the people of the good
town of Leesburg to the ravages of the enemy, without any
Instead of retreating to Carter's Mill, six miles from Leesburg,
I stopped my regiment at the Sigolin, about two miles from
Leesburg, and reported to General Evans that I had camped
there. There was no effort to pursue us. A most dreadful storm
set in that day. It blew down almost all my tents. I sent one
of my men who was familiar with the ground, to see what had
become of Gorman's force at Edwards' Ferry. He reported that
the river was exceedingly rough owing to this high wind storm,
and that Gorman's force was trying as hard to cross the river
as ever people did in the world. Their transportation was very
limited, and that was comparatively useless on account of the
rough condition of the water. It was thus developed that while
Evans was running away from Gorman, Gorman was trying to
run away from Evans, and if we had made an attack on Gorman,
with Evans' whole force, we would have captured his command
with very little loss, and then the victory would have been com-
plete. As far as it went, it was the most complete victory of the
war, considering the numbers engaged in it. Evans had in his
58 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
three regiments that participated in the fight, not over 1,500
muskets, and the enemy in killed, wounded and captured, lost
fully 2,000. It is almost unexampled that a body of troops kill,
wound and capture more men than they themselves number.
Quite a number of these Federal soldiers were drowned. One
or more floated down as far as Washington City.
The death of General Baker created a good deal of consterna-
tion in Washington. He was a great favorite with Lincoln. His
body was carried to Washington and laid in state at the White
House for several days. It was understood to be the design of
the military authorities that if Baker had succeeded in captur-
ing Leesburg he would have been put in very high command.
It would have been a great mistake. He showed little or no
military genius in the fight at Ball's Bluff. He lost his first
position — which was a very fine one, and from which I could
not have dislodged him if he had managed the fight properly.
He was a man of fine talent; stood high in the United States
Senate, and I think was a brave man. I saw him during the day
attempting to lead his forces to the fight.
I cannot close the account of this remarkable victory without
specially mentioning E. V. White, familiarly called "Lige"
White. He did not belong to any organization engaged in the
fight, but happened to be there, and from early morning until
late that night he was constantly occupied in carrying orders,
conducting the troops and leading them in the fight. His con-
duct on that occasion was so fine that his friends predicted for
him a brilliant career in the war. This prediction was fulfilled.
He afterwards raised a Company and was made its Captain;
increased it to a Battalion, and was made its Major; increased
it to a Regiment, and was made its Colonel ; and if the war had
lasted a few months longer it is believed he would have been
a Brigadier-General, and would have really been entitled to the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 59
rank which Captain Wilham N. Berkeley assigned to him when
he demanded a surrender on the night of the 21st of October.
No man in the Confederate army stood higher for bravery, dash
and patriotic devotion to the cause than Colonel "Lige White."
I cannot fail to mention also, William H. F. Hummer. He
was a private in the Loudoun Cavalry. On my march to First
Manassas I sent him, Henry Peyton and three others as a picket
on the blind road from Centreville to Sudley. When they were
driven in and brought to me the report of the flank movement
of General McDowell, I kept Peyton and Hummer with me
during the balance of the fight. Both distinguished themselves
for their courage. Peyton was taken by Beauregard on his staff,
and Hummer was transferred from his company to a company
in my regiment, and remained by my side until after the Battle
of Gettysburg. No matter how fierce the fight — no matter how
much danger surrounded me — Hummer was always by my side
and ready to do any service that I called upon him to perform.
After I was promoted, he remained with Colonel Berkeley to
the end of the war. When Cleveland was elected President,
Hummer had become poor. I went to Colonel L. Q. C. Lamar,
the Secretary of the Interior, and told him of the relations be-
tween Hummer and myself, and said that I would feel disgraced
if I did not get Hummer some position under the Federal Gov-
ernment. Lamar thought so too, and put Hummer in the Patent
Office. This was in 1885 and Hummer by his good conduct in
the office still holds his position and is protected by civil service
*The official report of Col. Hunton on the Battle of Ball's Bluff will
be found in O. R., vol. 5, p. 367. Those of other officers, pp. 289-372.
i30METIME in the month of November, General Johnston
decided to brigade his troops according to the States from which
they came. With this view he sent two Mississippi Regiments
to Leesburg to make, with the three already there, a Mississippi
Brigade under General Evans, and ordered me to join my brigade
at Centreville. This brigade was commanded by Gen. Phillip
St. George Cocke and was composed of the following regiments :
Eighth Virginia, Col. Eppa Hunton; Eighteenth Virginia, Col.
Robt. E. Withers; Nineteenth Virginia, Col. J. R. Strange;
Twenty-eighth Virginia, Col. Robert T. Preston.
It was a trial to me to leave the dear old county of Loudoun.
I had received nothing but kindness at the hands of its people,
but I had to go. I had the finest transportation that any regi-
ment ever had in time of war. When we got ready to march
I found I had 28 wagons. Some of my Captains said it would
be impossible to move if they did not have more transportation.
My long line of wagons created infinite amusement at Centre-
ville. We had a royal reception when we reached Centreville.
General Cocke, with the other three regiments of his brigade,
marched out to receive us with military honors, and the whole
army greeted us as the heroes of Ball's BluflF. I was invited that
day to dine with General Cocke. While going to his tent he was
in absolute silence for some distance, he then struck his forehead
two heavy blows, exclaiming, "My God! My God! My country!"
I was very much astonished, and felt that his mind was a little
off, which was sadly verified by his suicide a month or two
later. He was a good man, a brave man, and an earnest patriot;
but he was not a military man.
62 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
I still suffered intensely with my fistula. It got worse, instead
of better. My friends in the Army insisted I should go to Rich-
mond for an operation. I obtained leave of absence for that
purpose, and put myself in the hands of Dr. Gibson, Assistant
Surgeon-General of the Confederate States, and underwent the
usual operation for fistula. The wound did not heal. I stayed
in Richmond until I satisfied myself it was not healing, and then
I went to my home at Brentsville, to which my wife and son
had returned. I reported twice for duty at Centreville. My
surgeon declared I was unfit for duty. I felt I was. Everything
was quiet. The Federal Army after its repulses at Manassas
and Ball's Bluff, remained quiet until the spring, and I agreed
to go back to Richmond. There my wound was cauterized
regularly by Dr. Gibson, but still did not heal. I staid there
sometime, and then went to my home at Brentsville. In a week
or ten days I reported again for duty, at Centreville. I was again
pronounced unfit for duty, and sent back to my home. I re-
mained there until the evacuation of Centreville and Manassas,
in March, 1862. This was a trying period to me. I felt that I
was not fit for duty — I feared I never would be and yet I felt
anxious to render further service to the Confederate cause —
but it gave me an opportunity to be with my family. My wife
had suffered for a long time with neuralgia of the liver — not
constant suffering, but spells of intense pain. She was attended
by several eminent surgeons from the army, but was not relieved.
I was very unhappy about her. She was a devoted wife and
bore the hardships and sufferings and separation from me
incident to the war, with real heroism. My son, Eppa, who was
then nearly seven years old, was a great comfort to her. He
was a manly, fine fellow, and has always been the greatest com-
fort to his mother, in her lifetime, and to me up to the present
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 63
General Winfield Scott was physically and mentally broken
down, and the old, degenerate son of Virginia was forced to
retire from the command of the Federal Army. General George
B. McClellan was selected, and a most splendid commander he
proved to be. Soon after the Battle of Manassas he addressed
himself earnestly to the reorganization and the increase of his
army. He was a cautious man — probably too cautious for a
brilliant commander. He made no attempt to move after the
Battle of Ball's Bluff until the spring of 1862, when he had a
perfectly magnificent army — ^not only in discipline and equip-
ment, but in its vast numbers.
The roads were so bad that McClellan was unable to move
until sometime in March, 1862, and then instead of pursuing
McDowell's route to Richmond he determined to go by York-
town, and sent the bulk of his army by water down to Fortress
Monroe and its vicinity.
General Johnston was apprised of this movement of Mc-
Clellan, and determined to evacuate Centreville and Manassas.
It was very sad to me, and to all of us from that country, to give
it up to the invaders, but we had to do it. I was at home sick.
I could not make preparations to give up my home, or to save
any of my property. I moved my wife and son to Bristow, the
nearest station — my wife on a bed in a wagon — where we stayed
all night to take the early train the next morning. I left behind
me my slaves, household and kitchen furniture, and a crop of
wheat which I had just threshed, a pair of fine horses and a
buggy. Of course all this property was soon swept by the Fed-
eral Army, and my horses carried away. The next morning
we took the train — the last train that went out. My wife suf-
fered intensely on the way. I feared at times that she might die
on the train. My object was to locate my wife and son in Lynch-
burg for the war, but when we reached Gordonsville there was
64 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
a train blockade, and we were kept there three days. We then
went to Charlottesville, where we met another blockade. I was
very anxious to get back to my regiment, and I determined I
would locate them in Charlottesville. I had just made arrange-
ments to board them with a Mrs. Sinclair, just outside of the
town of Charlottesville. She was the sister of Mr. Belt, who
had been one of my faithful soldiers at Leesburg, in the Cavalry.
She readily agreed to board them, and would have taken first
rate care of them, but when I returned to Charlottesville I found
that we could get to Lynchburg, and as I thought that was the
safest place I determined to take them there. I located them
with a Mrs. Robert Brown, who kept a female boarding school
in a very large building in Lynchburg, and went back to my
I met my regiment with the army in Orange County, near
the Courthouse. I was received with great delight, but was not
fit for duty, but I concluded that I was as fit for duty as I ever
would be, and determined to stay with my regiment. After
remaining a few days at Camp Taylor, on the plank road below
Orange Courthouse, General Johnston started his army through
Richmond to the Peninsula, to meet the army of General Mc-
Clellan, below Yorktown.
It was a dreadful march. The roads were worse than I ever
saw them, but we finally made the trip. The Confederate forces
in the Peninsula had been under the command of General John
Bankhead Magruder, who was a very brilliant man, but unfor-
tunately addicted to intemperance. Of course General Johnston
assumed command. Magruder's line was along a small water-
way that extended almost across the peninsula at its narrowest
point, its left, resting on the York River at Yorktown. This was
*She was the mother of Bishop William Cabell Brown of Virginia.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 65
a very strong position and was not seriously assailed by Mc-
Clelian. Several heavy skirmishes occured at different points
along this line, but no general engagement. General McClellan
w^as preparing to pass his battleships up the York River, and
put a large force in Johnston's flank and rear. We w^ere not
prepared to resist this movement, and General Johnston pre-
pared to evacuate the Peninsula.
A day or two before the retreat from Yorktown the Virginia
forces were reorganized under a law of Congress. All the regi-
mental officers were elected — the field officers by the subordinate
officers, and the company officers by the privates. I was elected
without opposition. Major Norborne Berkeley was made Lieu-
tenant-Colonel in place of Colonel Charles Tebbs, and Captain
James Thrift was made Major.
McClellan pressed Johnston very hard on this retreat up to
Williamsburg. At that historic old town Johnston was obliged
to turn and give McClellan battle. I was very uneasy about the
result of the fight, because of the recent reorganization of the
army — so many of the old officers had been retired. The brigade
was then under the command of General George E. Pickett,
who was assigned to the command soon after the melancholy
death of General Cocke.
General Pickett came to the brigade with a fine reputation.
He was from the old army, and a graduate of West Point.
Our brigade had passed through Williamsburg on the retreat.
I was still suffering with my affliction and sick besides. I got
permission from General Pickett to spend the night with Mrs.
Tucker, in Williamsburg. She was the sister of the wife of
my friend Captain William N. Berkeley. When I left I exacted
a promise from General Pickett that if there was any movement
in the night he was to send someone to Mrs. Tucker's and
notify me, that I might take command of my regiment. Not a
66 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
great while afterwards Pickett's brigade was ordered back, and
Hummer was about to obey my directions and notify me.
General Pickett refused to allow him. He said I was not fit to
go into the fight. I knew nothing of the fight until the next
The Battle of Williamsburg was a very hard-fought battle.
McClellan pressed Johnston very hard. The Confederate sol-
diers fought with great gallantry, and notwithstanding the re-
cent reorganization they showed the pluck that characterized
them at Manassas and Ball's Bluff. McClellan was driven back,
and the next morning we leisurely pursued our retreat towards
I was suffering very much, and was very sick, and while
riding at the head of my regiment I fainted and fell off my horse.
I would have been badly hurt but that soldiers walking near me
caught me and broke my fall.
We continued our march until we reached a position near
the Chickahominy, where we halted and General Johnston
made preparations to defend Richmond from that point. I had
to ask for sick furlough, and was granted an indefinite leave
of absence, and went to Lynchburg where my wife and son were.
At that time they were comfortably situated with Mrs. Brown,
and I remained there some time.
In the meantime the Battle of Seven Pines was fought,
May 31-June I, 1862. This was a hotly-contested fight.
Although we held our own and drove the enemy back some
distance, no substantial results followed from our victory. Gen-
eral Johnston, who was always in the fiercest of a fight, was
wounded about dusk on the evening of May 31. The fight
lasted two days. On the second it was not very severe, but on
the first it was terrific, and my regiment was hotly engaged.
It was under the command of my gallant Lieutenant-Colonel
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 67
Norborne Berkeley, and all hands behaved, as usual, with gal-
lantry. Major Thrift, the newly elected Major, was mortally
wounded, and was afterwards succeeded by Captain Edmund
The next day because of the disability of General Johnston,
that grandest of men, that noblest of patriots, that greatest of
military chieftains. General Robert E. Lee, was assigned to the
command of the army, then called the Army of Northern
McClellan was drawing his immense army, like the coils of
an anaconda, around the City of Richmond, and General Lee
planned the boldest campaign known to military history to rid
Richmond of the siege. The two armies were very unequal in
numbers. General McClellan held his line of battle from the
James River up to the little town of Mechanicsville, to the north-
east of Richmond, with a large force of the Federal Army at
Fredericksburg under General McDowell. The administration
at Washington was afraid to allow this force to unite with
McClellan for fear of a dash upon the Federal Capitol. This
apprehension always weighed upon the administration at Wash-
ington and kept from our front often-times a large part of their
army to defend the capital.
Jackson had won world-wide fame in the Valley of Virginia.
He won three battles, over greatly superior numbers each time,
in three days, and drove the enemy down towards Harper's
Ferry. When General Lee determined to attack McClellan, he
gave orders to Jackson to move secretly and swiftly across the
Ridge and attack McClellan on his right. General Lee's general
plan of battle was to cross the Chickahominy, leaving a small
portion of his army (two divisions, Huger's and Magruder's)
on the Richmond side of the river, disperse McClellan's forces
under Fitz John Porter on the north side and draw the rest of
68 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
his forces from their protected position on the south side of the
river. The boldness of the attack consisted in the fact that if
McClellan had been equally bold when General Lee crossed the
Chickahominy leaving only a small portion of his army to de-
fend Richmond, McClellan might have marched into Rich-
mond. But he did not.
I was still sick in Lynchburg. Dr. Taylor, my physician, came
to see me on the 24th of June, 1862. I told him that I was
satisfied there was a fight on hand and I was going to my regi-
ment the next day. He laughed at the idea and said I must not
think of such a thing. The next morning he came to see me,
and I had gone. At Farmville the train was delayed awhile,
and two or three of my friends came out and learning I was
on my way to my regiment, and seeing my condition, proposed
to take me by force from the train. I absolutely refused to leave,
and went on.
I joined my regiment on the morning of the 26th, then
camped on the Mechanicsville Turnpike. My boys, as usual,
were glad to see me. The brigade had been strengthened at
that time by the addition of the 56th Virginia Regiment under
the command of William D. Stuart, and consisted all through
the war of the 8th, i8th, 19th, 28th and 56th Regiments.
The right flank of McClellan was attacked that day at
Mechanicsville by A. P. Hill's forces supported, toward the
close of the action by D. H. Hill and Longstreet, and repulsed.
General McClellan had taken up a very strong position at Gaines
Mill — sometimes called the "Watt Farm." The first line of the
enemy was in a washout made by the water in times of freshet.
It was probably four feet deep and five feet wide, and made a
most excellent cover for the Federal soldiers. One hundred
yards back on the ground which commenced to rise from this
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 69
ravine was another line fortified by cutting down and piling
up logs and trees. One hundred yards further, and still higher,
the ground rising rapidly, was another line fortified in the same
way, and beyond this was an open field where the artillery was
On the 27th of June, General Lee determined to assail Mc-
Clellan at Gaines' Mill. At this point, where we fought, General
Brockenbrough's brigade was put in and driven out. Then
General Pryor was put in, and repulsed. General Lee called on
Longstreet for a brigade that could carry that point, and Long-
street ordered Pickett up. In the Brigade it was said and insisted
upon that when General Lee called on Longstreet for a brigade
that would carry this formidable position, Longstreet said, "I
have a brigade that will carry it, but it has been in the thickest
of all the fights and has lost heavily. I don't like to send it in."
Lee said, "This is no time for sentiment, I must carry the place."
The 8th and i8th had been put into a little body of woods to
clear it of the enemy. The other three regiments were in line
of battle in the field, in front of the woods, protected by the crest
of the hill. From that point to the first line of McClellan some
200 to 250 yards, the ground descended very rapidly, so that
there was a descent on both sides to this ravine. To make the
charge, the charging column was exposed to the fire from all
three of these fortified lines. It was a fearful position, chosen
with great skill by General McClellan, and was defended by
General Porter with a large force.
Pickett ordered the 8th and i8th Regiments to march out
from the woods and when on the line with the balance of his
brigade the whole line was to charge the enemy. This was
done with the rebel yell. As soon as the brigade showed them-
selves over the crest of this hill, the three fortified lines of Fitz
70 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
John Porter, commanding the corps of McClellan's army, on
the north side of the Chickahominy River, opened up on us with
the most terrific fire I ever witnessed, except at Gettysburg.
By a misunderstanding of an order of Colonel Withers, of
the i8th Regiment, our brigade halted, but only for a few
moments. This halt came near being fatal to us. When we
started in the charge, Pryor's men, who had been repulsed, were
running through our lines. All hands made efforts to arrest
their retreat and take them back into the charge. Colonel
Withers was particularly active in this work, and ordered them
to halt. His regiment misunderstood the command and thought
the order of Colonel Withers was to his own regiment to halt.
This caused the halt of the i8th, and the balance of the line.
Colonel Withers saw the terrible mistake his men had made,
and acted with the greatest heroism to get his men off, this
galling fire in the meantime cutting down our men in great
numbers. We started again in the charge, Colonel Withers with
great gallantry actually leading his regiment.
In this charge down the hill the gallant Withers was fear-
fully, and it was believed for a long time, mortally wounded.
He had nearly reached the first line when he fell, still leading
his men. General Pickett was also wounded in going down
the hill, and our loss was fearful. The command of the brigade
devolved on me as senior Colonel.* Our brigade then carried
the three lines in the most beautiful style I ever saw. This charge
was witnessed by Colonel George W. Randolph, Secretary of
War, and many others. They all said it was brilliant. General
Brockenbrough said it was the most beautiful sight he ever saw.
*In a sketch of my father in Vol. 3, p. 605, of "Confederate Mihtary
History," edited by General Clement N. Evans, of Georgia (written by
Dr. Mason Graham Ellzey, Surgeon of 8th Virginia Regiment), it is
stated: "At the battle of Gaines Mill where Pickett's brigade made a
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
After carrying the three Hnes we came upon this large body
of artillery in the open field beyond the woods. Its fire had been
very destructive to us. My regiment was a little in advance of
the other regiments of the brigade, and I halted it a moment
until they came up. We then resumed the charge, captured
the artillery, and just after that, Jackson's men who had been
fighting on our left, came up somewhat obliquely on our left.
We were met by a charge of cavalry. I have never seen saddles
emptied so fast in my life, and we soon dispersed the cavalry
in our front, and the fight ended.
When the fighting was over I marched the brigade back
beyond this ravine which separated the two armies, where we
rested for the night. The losses on both sides were very heavy.
This was a great victory, and I think one of the hardest fights
I was in, except Gettysburg. It reflected as much credit upon
Pickett's Brigade as any fight of the war, except Gettysburg.
General Lee's operations against McClellan were very much
aided by the march of Stuart and his cavalry around McClellan's
rear. He marched entirely around McClellan, going past his
right and coming out upon his left, June 12th to 15th. He de-
stroyed immense stores of provisions at Tunstall's Station, and
with the loss of but one single man (the gallant Captain Latane),
returned to General Lee's lines. The information thus obtained
brilliant assault, and carried the three fortified lines of the enemy, before
the assistance from Jackson came up, Pickett was wounded early in the
assault and Hunton as senior Colonel carried on the successful action,
which was never officially reported owing to Pickett's severe wound and
General Hunton's continued ill health on account of which he was sent
back to Lynchburg by General Longstreet."
An account of the battle of Gaines Mill is also given in the address of
my father at the first reunion of the survivors of the 8th Virginia Regi-
ment on the 34th anniversary of the battle of Ball's Bluff, October 21,
1 861, published as an appendix to this book.
72 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
enabled General Lee to form with more accuracy his plans of
attack on McClellan, and General Stuart deserves great credit
for the information thus imparted to General Lee. He was an
exceedingly valuable cavalry officer.
After the loss of Gaines' Mill and the destruction of his com-
munications at White House by Stuart, McClellan determined
to change his base, make for Harrison's landing on the James
River and obtain the protection of the gun boats, which could
ascend James River as far as Drewry's Bluff.
General McClellan determined to seek Harrison's Landing
by the Long Bridge and Quaker Roads which led from the
White Oak Swamp down to the James River about Harrison's
Landing. This Quaker Road was crossed nearly at right angles
by several roads leading from Richmond down the peninsula.
General Lee gave strict orders that the movements of McClellan
should be watched, that his future plans might be developed
as soon as possible. McClellan really started his movement to-
wards Harrison's Landing on the night of the 27th. It was
not communicated to General Lee until the evening of the 28th.
This was loss of time which would have been exceedingly valu-
able to General Lee. As soon as he heard that McClellan was
retreating by the Quaker Road, he formed a plan for the battle
of Frazier's Farm — I think the best planned battle of the war.
He ordered Longstreet and A. P. Hill with their divisions to
march rapidly through the southeastern outskirts of Richmond,
and down one of these peninsula roads until he got on the flank
of McClellan. This he accomplished at Frazier's Farm. Gen-
eral Huger was to march down another one of these peninsula
roads, the Charles City road, and attack McClellan in the flank.
General Jackson was to cross White Oak Swamp and attack
General McClellan in the rear, while Holmes and Magruder at-
tacked nearer the river.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 73
These orders unfortunately were not carried out, or McClellan
never would have reached Harrison's Landing or Malvern Hill.
Longstreet reached his position in front of McClellan at Frazier's
Farm. He was ordered to withhold his attack until he heard
the guns of Huger. He waited from early morning to late after-
noon for Huger's guns, but Huger never fired upon the enemy
at all. Longstreet determined to make the attack. It was one
of the most stubborn fights I was in during the war. We were
reinforced by a portion of Hill's Division. We drove the enemy
steadily, but slowly. We fought until nine o'clock at night,
and had gained no very decided advantage except in the capture
of a good deal of artillery. Huger, as I have said, never fired
on the enemy at all, and Jackson for the first and only time in
his life failed to do his part. He had some difficulty in crossing
White Oak Swamp, and his men who had made forced marches
from the Valley had been fighting for a day or two, needed,
with their commander, some rest. Jackson laid down for a very
short nap, his orders being to wake him at a given time. His
staff, with mistaken kindness, determined to let him sleep on,
and when he awoke the time for action had passed ; Jackson was
greatly distressed, and moved on with great rapidity, but it was
too late then.
That night, which was the night of the 30th, McClellan
withdrew his troops from Frazier's Farm to Malvern Hill. This
was a remarkably strong position, and on the ist of July General
Lee attacked him there. The first day's fight was very destruc-
tive to our men; the enemy's artillery was splendidly posted,
and did very destructive work on our advancing line. We car-
ried McClellan's right, but it was recovered, and the battle of
the day terminated then. General Lee made arrangements to
renew the fight early next morning, but in the darkness Mc-
Clellan withdrew, and reached Harrison's Landing, where he
74 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
was protected by the gun boats. Lee decided that it would be
impohtic and hazardous to attempt to dislodge McClellan, and
withdrew his army back towards Richmond for rest and re-
It was a marvelous campaign. General McClellan, with a
large army — much larger than General Lee's* — had marched
up within a few miles of Richmond, creating the greatest alarm
in that city, and causing a very decided sentiment to remove
the capitol from Richmond. In seven days General Lee had
routed the besieging army, driving it many miles from the city,
restored the confidence of the inhabitants, and then rested his
army for sometime. It is difficult to find in military history the
parallel of this short campaign.
I suffered dreadfully from pain and physical exhaustion in
these fights and more than once fell from exhaustion on the
battlefield. General Longstreet, who was always kind and con-
siderate of me, was apprised of my condition and voluntarily
gave me sick-leave to repair to my family in Lynchburg and
remain till I was fit for duty. I found my dear wife and dear
son well but very unhappy about me. I remained some time
in Lynchburg and returned in better physical condition to my
command, then encamped at Roper's Mill, below Richmond. It
was very trying to part from my wife and son. They did not
know how soon I would die from disease, or fall on the
McClellan reorganized his army and called upon the gov-
ernment at Washington for reinforcements that he might ar-
range his attack upon Richmond from Harrison's Landing.
They were beginning to send them in. General Lee also
strengthened his army. While these preparations were being
*The Federal forces numbered 105,000 at the beginning of the cam-
paign; the Confederate, 80,000 to 90,000.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 75
made on the James River, General John Pope appeared in Wasli-
ington. He was a western, bragging, incompetent mihtary
leader, who made a fine impression on Mr. Lincoln. He told
Mr. Lincoln, "If you will give me 100,000 men, I will not only
march to Richmond, but I will go to New Orleans. I come
from the western army, that is not in the habit of seeing any-
thing but the backs of its enemies" — and said his headquarters
would be in the saddle.
Pope was given 50,000 men, and started up the railroad by
Manassas to Culpeper County, intending to take the same route
to Richmond that McDowell determined on. General Lee dis-
patched Jackson with 11,000 men to Orange County, to look
after Pope, who was then at Culpeper Courthouse, and was
advancing to the Rapidan. Jackson determined to fight him,
crossed the Rapidan, and took position on Slaughter's Moun-
tain. Pope assailed him there with great vigor, with a large
portion of his army, but was driven back in the finest style by
Jackson and his small army, with very great loss.
As soon as this was known to General Lee, with his usual
military acumen he decided that the best way to get rid of
McClellan at Harrison's Landing and to meet Pope was to send
D. H. Hill up to Orange to support Jackson, well knowing that
the timidity of the administration in Washington concerning
the safety of the capital would withdraw McClellan from Har-
rison's Landing as soon as Jackson's and Hill's presence was
known on the road to Washington.
This battle of Slaughter's Mountain (or Cedar Mountain,
as it was sometimes called) occurred on the 9th of August. On
the loth of August I was ordered to take my brigade to Gordons-
ville and report to Jackson. Jackson ordered me to bivouac at
Gordonsville. General Lee's army was soon gathered in Orange
County, and he at once began to press Pope back. As it turned
76 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
out, General Lee saw Pope's back, oftener then Pope saw the
back of General Lee or his soldiers.
The alarm in Washington became great, and McClellan was
ordered to reinforce Pope, and keep Lee out of Washington.
Jackson, by a rapid movement, passed Pope's right, and the first
thing Pope knew of his advance Jackson had captured Manassas
and destroyed immense quantities of army supplies at that point.
Pope at once determined that he would bag Jackson before
Longstreet could come to his support, and ordered all of his
troops to concentrate about Manassas; and to keep Longstreet
away, he occupied Thoroughfare Gap with a large force. Long-
street, under General Lee's immediate supervision, followed the
same route that Jackson had taken, and when he reached The
Plains he halted. The next day about twelve o'clock Lee
ordered Longstreet's advance to Gainesville. When we reached
Thoroughfare Gap we found it was held by the enemy. For-
tunately for us, the heavy forces had been withdrawn to aid in
the capture of Jackson, and there was left only a brigade to
defend it. General Lee not knowing the force that held the
Gap directed me to take the brigade which I was still command-
ing, out of the line of march, and go through Lambert's Gap
(the next gap south of Thoroughfare), and flank the enemy out
of the gap. I was selected for this duty because I was born and
raised near Lambert's Gap and knew the country. I had gotten
my brigade nearly out of the line when General Lee counter-
manded the order and directed us to march directly upon the
gap. Before I reached the gap another brigade had filed in
before me, and a sharp fight ensued between the Federal forces
holding the gap, and this brigade. The enemy was finally
driven away. One brigade could not hold Thoroughfare Gap;
it required at least a division. I slept in the gap that night, and
early the next morning we resumed our march to Gainesville.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 77
We reached Gainesville about twelve o'clock in the day. Jack-
son meantime had retired from Manassas to a position between
Sudley and Gainesville, occupying the line of the independent
Manassas Railroad from Gainesville to Alexandria (which had
been commenced, but not completed). When Longstreet
reached Gainesville Jackson was very hard-pressed. They had
held this position against vastly overwhelming numbers, fight-
ing from the cuts and behind the fills of this branch railroad,
for several hours, and Pope with great gallantry making his
attack time after time. Jackson sent to Lee for reinforcements.
Longstreet then occupied a line at an angle with Jackson's line.
Lee ordered Longstreet to reinforce Jackson. In galloping to
the front, Longstreet got a view of the battlefield and instead
of sending troops to Jackson, he moved out his whole corps and
attacked Pope somewhat in the flank.
The effect of this attack upon Pope was instantaneous. The
fighting occurred upon very much the same ground where the
first battle of Manassas was fought, and when Longstreet
ordered his charge Pickett's Brigade, under my command, Vv^as
posted on the right of Hood. In our charge we repulsed the
enemy in my front very promptly and were in pursuit. Hood
met with more resistance on my left from the Zouaves of the
Federal Army, and after I had dispersed the enemy in my front,
he was still fighting in the same position. There was a most
admirable place there for a change of front of my brigade, and
to attack the enemy a little in the flank and a little in the rear.
I had reached a ravine down which flowed a little stream of water
from the Chinn House. I was thoroughly protected from the
fire and the view of the enemy. I determined I would change
front and make an attack to relieve Hood. I gave the command
in a very loud voice, which was heard by the Colonels of the
extreme regiments, right and left. To be satisfied that all knew
78 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
of my design, I sent a message to each Colonel and told him what
I was going to do. Colonel R. C. Allen, of the 28th Regiment,
said that "if Colonel Hunton wanted him to obey an order he
must send it in writing," and refused to obey the order. Sup-
posing that the brigade had changed its marching order I placed
myself at the head of the 56th Regiment, which was the directing
regiment in the change of front, and when I got to the point
where we would front and charge over the hill right upon the
enemy, I looked around and found that no other regiment was
following. Colonel Allen, being next to the 56th, refused to
follow, and the other regiments could not.
This broke up my plan of attack. I thought then, and think
now, that if my orders had been carried out we would have
captured most of the troops that were fighting Hood, and it
would have been the most brilliant effort in my military career.
I was humiliated and deeply mortified at the failure. My regi-
mental commanders did not understand it and blamed me, but
three days afterward they came to me in a body (except Allen)
and said that while they had blamed me for the failure of that
movement they had learned the facts and had come to apologize
to me and to express their appreciation of the movement that
I was trying to make.
I ought to have court-martialed Colonel Allen. It was a
great mistake; but I did not do it. I was only colonel-com-
manding. He lost his prestige with the brigade; his regiment
became dissatisfied with him, and General Garnett thought
seriously of disbanding the regiment, but at Gettysburg Allen
led his regiment with heroism, and was killed in that great
Hood was assisted by Colonel Corse, commanding Kemper's
brigade, and soon after routed the enemy in his front. A panic
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 79
seized the Federal Army, and the rout was only second to that
which we witnessed at first Manassas.
The battle was fought pretty much on the same ground as
the first Manassas, with the positions of the two armies reversed.
Pope retired to Centreville, where he was joined by McClellan
and some of his forces from Harrison's Landing rapidly coming
to reinforce Pope, some of whom had gotten there and par-
ticipated in the second battle of Manassas. This battle was
fought on the 21st of August, 1862. General Lee did not feel
that it was prudent to attack McClellan at Centreville with his
reinforced army, but gave him a little brush at Chantilly, and
then started into Maryland.
We passed through Loudoun. How glad I was to see the
dear people of that old county, and they were just as glad to see
me and the soldiers of the 8th Regiment. We crossed the
Potomac at White's Ferry, and entered Maryland. At this time
General Richard B. Garnett was temporarily assigned to the
command of Pickett's Brigade, and I returned to the command
of the 8th Virginia Regiment. General Lee pressed on to Fred-
erick City, where he remained some days. Harper's Ferry was
occupied by Colonel Miles with about 10,000 men. This was
on the left and rear of General Lee. He dispatched Jackson to
capture Harper's Ferry, and issued an address to the people of
Maryland, in which he expressed his sympathy for their situa-
tion, his admiration for what he believed to be their patriotic
desire to free themselves from the tyranny of the Federal Gov-
ernment, and invited them to take arms and come to help him
to gain the liberties of the Southern Confederacy.
This address was very coolly received, and while we had a
great many gallant Marylanders in the army, from the early
period of the war, very few united with us on this occasion.
8o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
After remaining at Frederick a few days to give Jackson time
to reduce Harper's Ferry, General Lee started by the National
Turnpike to cross the mountain at Boonsborough Gap, and go
to Chambersburg, intending to give battle to McClellan at that
point, after being joined by Jackson. Unfortunately, General
Lee's order to his Division Commanders detailing his plans,
v^as allow^ed by one of his Major-Generals to fall into the hands
of McClellan. As soon as McClellan found what the plans of
General Lee were, he pressed him with great energy, and Gen-
eral Lee found in order to give Jackson time to reduce Harper's
Ferry he woud have to fight McClellan at Boonsborough Gap.
Longstreet's corps had reached Chambersburg before General
Lee decided upon the necessity of fighting McClellan at Boons-
borough Gap. We were ordered to double-quick back to Boons-
borough, and we had a most unsatisfactory fight at that point,
by reason of the forced march. In this fight. Colonel J. B.
Strange, commanding the 19th Virginia Regiment, was mortally
wounded. That night General Lee withdrew to Sharpsburg.
The Battle of Boonsborough was on the 14th of September,
1862. At that time General Lee, including Jackson's force at
Harper's Ferry had 55,000 men, and McClellan had 87,000. On
the 17th of September, the great battle of Sharpsburg ensued.
General Lee's small forces heroically held their position until
Jackson's men arrived. Jackson in the meantime had captured
Harper's Ferry and 12,500 men, and all the stores, ammunition,
artillery and baggage that Colonel Miles had.
With the aid of Jackson's men, General Lee drove McClellan
back at Sharpsburg. Night came on and the battle ceased. The
advantage of the fight was with Lee, because McClellan made
the assault and Lee repelled it. General Lee expected McClellan
to attack him again the next day, and waited until nearly one
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 8i
o'clock. Finding that McClellan did not intend to attack, and
was being heavily reinforced, General Lee retired across the
river into Virginia, unmolested by McClellan.
The only company of Marylanders that reported to General
Lee during this campaign was turned over to me the night of
the Battle of Sharpsburg. I told them to lie down on the ground
near us, and the next morning I would arm and equip them for
service. The next morning I went to look for my company of
Marylanders, and the last one of them had gone home. I saw
no more of them.
While at Culpeper, Colonel M. D. Corse, who was my junior
in rank and had seen fewer fights than I had, was made a
Brigadier General and assigned to Pickett's Brigade, Pickett
having been made a Major-General. This was mortifying to me
and the other Colonels of the brigade and they resented it. They
came to me in a body and insisted that all of us ought to tender
our resignations because of this injustice to me. I thanked them
for resenting this great injustice to me, which I felt very keenly,
but said to them, "I did not come into this war for military
glory, but to fight honestly wherever I could for the cause that
I loved so well," and declined to resign myself, and advised them
to give up all idea of resigning. In consequence of this they all
gave up the idea of resignation. The dissatisfaction in the
brigade was so great that another brigade was formed and Gen-
eral Corse assigned to it.
I was again in command of the brigade. I felt mortified after
having commanded the brigade as senior colonel so long, that
I was not thought worthy to be promoted to be its Brigadier
General. I met President Davis after the war, in Alexandria,
and he apologized to me for his failure to promote me earlier.
He said that the reports about my health were so alarming that
82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
he didn't think it was proper to put me in command of a
brigade; but I thought if I could command it as Colonel I was
equally competent to command it as Brigadier General.
McClellan had fallen into disgrace with the Washington ad-
ministration, and was relieved of the command of the Army
of the Potomac, at Warrenton, and Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside
placed in command. Burnside was junior in rank to Sumner,
Sedgwick and Meade. These three distinguished Federal Gen-
erals were very much hurt at the promotion of Burnside over
them and (it was thought by some) never yielded to Burnside
a very hearty support. Lincoln went to Warrenton and had a
consultation with Burnside, and it was decided that instead of
attacking General Lee in Culpeper that they would march di-
rectly for Richmond by way of Fredericksburg, and having the
inside line, and a start of two days, they believed they would be
able to pass Fredericksburg before General Lee could make any
attack. General Lee, as soon as he knew of the movement of
Burnside, left Culpeper on the 24th of November and made a
forced march towards Fredericksburg. I never shall forget that
march. Many of the soldiers were barefooted, and while at
Culpeper General Lee had ordered that moccasins be made out
of the hides of the beeves slaughtered for the army. These were
worn with the hair next to the foot, and the naked skin of the
beef-hide on the ground. I thought this a most admirable plan,
and very many of the soldiers of my brigade were shod in this
way, but on the march to Fredericksburg it rained and snowed,
the ground became very slippery, and the moccasins caused the
soldiers to slip and fall in the mud. The result was that most
of them threw the moccasins away and marched barefooted to
Burnside delayed his crossing of the Rappahannock to await
the arrival of his pontoon bridges, when he could readily have
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 83
crossed the river at any of the fords above Falmouth. This delay
enabled General Lee to reach Fredericksburg with his whole
army before Burnside attempted the passage of the river.
On the 13th of December, 1862, Lee with 60,000 men on the
south side of the Rappahannock, at Fredericksburg, confronted
Burnside with 100,000 on the Stafford side. The pontoon bridges
having come, Burnside forced a passage across the river at two
points — one at Fredericksburg and one about two miles below —
the first by Sumner's corps and the second by Franklin's.
Franklin's passage was not disputed. The gallant Barksdale
defended the passage of Sumner at Fredericksburg for a long
time. Finally the whole of Burnside's army was across the
Rappahannock. Longstreet occupied Lee's left, embracing
Marye's Heights, and Jackson occupied his right, along the rail-
road. My brigade was stationed on Longstreet's extreme right.
I had a splendid position, but Pickett was ordered by General
Lee not to assail the enemy unless assailed. I never was so anxi-
ous in my life to be attacked. My position was a very strong
one, and I felt that I could have done great service if allowed
to participate in the fight — I was not attacked. Franklin's corps
attacked Jackson on my right. At first he drove Jackson's first
line back, but Jackson soon recovered his ground and drove
Franklin back to the river. I thought if Pickett's Division had
been ordered to attack Franklin on his right flank when he was
fighting Jackson, the disaster to Franklin would have been very
much more serious.
In the meantime Sumner had marched through Fredericks-
burg and assailed Longstreet at Marye's Heights. To do this
they had to pass over an open space between Fredericksburg and
Marye's Heights of some three or four hundred yards. This
assault was made with exceeding great gallantry. Charge after
charge was made, and repulsed, with immense slaughter each
84 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
time from Marye's Heights. Finally the whole of Burnside's
army was driven back to the river's edge, and that night re-
crossed the river into Stafford. I have never seen on any battle-
field the dead lay so thick as they did in front of Marye's
Heights. It was assailed with very great gallantry, and de-
fended with great heroism. It has been said that Jackson advised
Lee to make a night attack on Burnside; but this is a mistake.
Jackson himself, in his lifetime, denied it. But Lee expected an
attack the next day. Burnside, however, recrossed the river and
Lee with his diminished force was unable to assail him.
Thus ended the Battle of Fredericksburg. It was a glorious
triumph of the Confederate arms. My only regret was that I
was not allowed to participate actively in bringing about this
Fredericksburg suffered intensely during the fight. Burnside
had 300 guns on the Stafford Heights, and for twenty-four hours
bombarded Fredericksburg and Lee's position. The town was
dreadfully injured by this cannonade. After the fight General
Lee withdrew his army some five or six miles south of Fred-
ericksburg, and passed the winter there, Burnside making no
further efforts to go to Richmond.
After the fight. General Richard B. Garnett was assigned to
the command of our Brigade. General Garnett was a graduate
of West Point, a member of the distinguished Garnett family
of Essex County, Virginia, and while he was not a man of much
mental force, he was one of the noblest and bravest men I ever
knew. Although the brigade was dissatisfied that I was not
promoted, we all soon became very fond of General Garnett.
We loved him and followed him with implicit confidence until
his lamented death at Gettysburg.
In February, 1863, General Pickett was sent into North Caro-
lina, and Garnett's Brigade was sent down below Tarboro to get
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 85
out corn and bacon from eastern North Carolina. We had but
httle fighting, but great success in getting corn and bacon. We
returned and joined Pickett near Suffolk. In riding with Pickett
along his lines, with his staff, we came to an exposed position,
and to my surprise General Pickett and his staff laid flat down
on their horses' necks. I felt surprised at this, and thought
his example to his soldiers was exceedingly bad, and I, probably
imprudently, rode along with him bolt upright in my saddle.
In the meantime Burnside had been removed from the com-
mand of the Army of the Potomac, and General Joseph Hooker
placed in command. General Hooker determined to cross the
Rappahannock at the United States Ford, some twelve miles
above Fredericksburg. His plans became known to General Lee
and he was there to meet him.
I had not returned from North Carolina and was not present
at the battle of Chancellorsville on May 2-4, 1863. This was
another brilliant success for General Lee. His army was prob-
ably not as large as Hooker's by one-third. The victory was
dearly bought. Jackson was mortally wounded on May 2nd,
and died a week later. He was making a flank movement on
Hooker and had met with brilliant success when night came
and stopped the movement. In order to prosecute it intelli-
gently the next day, Jackson that night went out in his front
to reconnoitre. Coming back to his lines he was fired upon
accidentally by his own men, with the disastrous result above
The army could not have felt the loss of any man so severely
as that of Jackson, except General Lee himself. He had won
a reputation scarcely equalled by any man, by his brilliant
victories in the Valley, and his great assistance to Lee in winning
the fights at ist and 2nd Manassas, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg
and Chancellorsville. It has been said that Jackson planned
86 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
this flank attack on Hooker, but that is a mistake. General Lee
and Jackson were in consultation, and Lee said to him, "How
shall we meet these people?" Jackson said, "That is for you
to determine. Whatever you order me to do I am ready to
try it." Then Lee ordered this flank movement.
Some put Jackson as a military man above Lee; but this is
a mistake, also. I think Lee was the greatest commander to
plan a campaign, and Jackson was the greatest lieutenant to
execute it — that Lee and Jackson formed a combination which
has never been equalled in military warfare. General Lee never
failed when he had Jackson to execute his orders. He often
failed after Jackson's death, for want of his presence.
After the victories of Lee at Fredericksburg, and Chancellors-
ville, he determined to go into Pennsylvania, and Garnett's
Brigade, with Pickett's Division, was ordered to Culpeper about
the 24th of June. Soon after reaching Culpeper we started on
our march to Pennsylvania. We went through upper Fauquier
and Loudoun, passed through Snicker's Gap and Berryville. We
had to wade the river. Garnett's Brigade was sent back to
support the cavalry on this side of the ridge and we had to wade
the river three times. In marching through Clarke County,
Virginia, I was in command of the brigade, Garnett having been
injured in the foot by some accident and had to be carried in the
ambulance. As I rode in front of the brigade General Lee rode
up by my side. He was passing from the rear to the front. We
had a half hour's conversation. I expressed to him my disinclina-
tion to the movement into Pennsylvania. I told him that I was
afraid that if we had a disaster in Pennsylvania it would be very
serious, and difficult for him to get his army back into Virginia.
General Lee replied that the movement was a necessity; that
our provisions and supplies of every kind were very nearly ex-
hausted in Virginia, and that we had to go to Pennsylvania for
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 87
supplies. He believed that the invasion of Pennsylvania v^ould
be a great success, and if so, it would end the war, or we would
have rest for sometime to come. General Lee was so enthusiastic
about the movement that I threw away my doubts and became
as enthusiastic as he was.
Our army was in splendid fighting trim, but without shoes,
without clothes, and without blankets. It was right sad to see
Lee's ragged soldiers marching through the abundant country
in Pennsylvania. His army was 60,000 strong, and such was
his confidence in it, resulting from the great victories he had
achieved with it, that he believed his army could whip any-
thing on the planet.
We crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, and marched di-
rectly to Chambersburg. Here Pickett's Division was held for
a day or two to destroy the railroad and public property in the
town. I was assigned to the duty of tearing up the road, de-
stroying the turntable, and battering down the railroad houses.
While I was engaged in this work, a man came out to me and
asked me if I would spare his property, which was in one of
the cars. I told him certainly, that we were not there to make
war on private individuals. He was very grateful, and invited
me and half a dozen others into his house to take a drink. While
we were in the dining-room taking a drink, his wife came in,
in a perfect fury, and said to him, "How dare you to bring rebels
into my house to take a drink ? I will see that you are punished
for this." But notwithstanding her rage, we all took our drink.
I, in command of Garnett's Brigade, started on the morning
of the 2nd of July for Gettysburg. Just out of the town we passed
the house of Mr. Alexander K. McClure. The ladies of his
family, and perhaps some of the neighbors, all came out to the
gate to see the soldiers pass, and they did not taunt us with any
insults, or look unkindly upon us. I was sorry to hear that later
88 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
in the war his house and all of his property was destroyed, and
his farm devastated. He was a real good man, and notwith-
standing the injuries he received at our hands, spent years of his
time after the war, personally and through the newspaper which
he edited, in trying to bring back good feeling between the
North and the South. I met him more than once and was so
much pleased with him that I expressed my great regret that
his property had been destroyed by our soldiers."* We marched
very rapidly towards Gettysburg, making twenty-three miles
that day — probably one of the longest marches of the war. We
soon heard of the fighting that had taken place at Gettysburg
on the I St of July. Our success had been very great. The action
was brought on without General Lee's orders. His intention
was to fight at Cash Town, six miles southeast of Gettysburg
and on this side of South Mountain, but Ewell had accidentally
encountered quite a force of the enemy at Gettysburg, the fight
commenced, reinforcements on both sides were brought up,
and a heavy battle ensued. This resulted entirely in our favor.
We drove the enemy and captured six to seven thousand
prisoners. General Gordon says that he was driving the enemy
*My father and Major Taylor Scott were on a train coming from
Washington to Richmond to the unveiHng of the Pickett monument in
Hollywood. They were discussing the Gettysburg campaign and my
father was trying to recall the name of the owner of this house near
Gettysburg. The gendeman in the seat ahead of them turned and very
courteously asked their pardon for listening to their conversation, but
said he was so much interested he could not help it. He said that he
was the owner of that house and he was Alexander K. McClure. This
distinguished and influential Northern man, the editor of the Phila-
delphia Times, was going to Richmond to avail himself of this oppor-
tunity to try to diminish the intense feeling of hostility between the sec-
tions. My father spent much of his time while in Richmond with him
and I have frequently heard father speak with enthusiasm of this charm-
ing and delightful gentleman, this patriotic American.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 89
from Seminary Ridge when he was ordered by Ewell to retire.
He disobeyed the first order, but had to retire when he got the
second. He said that if left alone he would have driven the
enemy from the ridge and occupied it himself.
The next morning — the 2nd of July — ^Longstreet was ordered
at an early hour of the day to make an attack on the left of
General George Gordon Meade, who had been put in command
of the Army of the Potomac in place of Hooker. Longstreet
delayed the attack until late in the day. The objective point in
the attack was "Little Round Top." Our forces drove the enemy
from the Peach Orchard, and started to take possession of
Round Top. This was resisted, and a violent struggle ensued
for its possession. Finally the enemy prevailed and Longstreet's
troops were driven from Round Top.
This was a great calamity, which might have been avoided
if Longstreet had moved early in the morning. Round Top
commanded General Meade's lines, and it would have been dif-
ficult to hold them with our army in possessioii of Round Top,
with a proper complement of artillery.
Pickett's Division, including Garnett's Brigade, reached the
vicinity of Gettysburg about night on the 2nd, very much worn
down by the march. General Lee ordered Longstreet to take
Pickett's Division to unite with the rest of his corps on the right
of our army, and as I have said, he ordered him to make this
move early in the morning. Garnett's Brigade, still under my
command, marched at an early hour and gained the desired
position before eight o'clock. Longstreet was ordered by Gen-
eral Lee to make the attack at an early hour with the whole
of his corps (which embraced four divisions) and a part of
Hill's corps, and all of it, if necessary. About twelve o'clock
in the day we were ordered into line of battle just behind Semi-
nary Ridge, and were to a great extent protected from the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
artillery fire of the enemy. Between twelve and one o'clock our
artillery, consisting of 250 guns, opened on the enemy. It was
replied to by Meade's 300 guns, the greatest artillery duel that
ever occurred on the continent. It was ordered that General
Alexander, who was in command of our artillery, should keep
up the cannonade until the enemy were demoralized by it, and
then Longstreet was to make his charge.
After a cannonading of about three hours Alexander reported
that if the charge was to be made, then was the time to make it,
and Pickett's Division and Pender's Division of North Caro-
linians started in this charge.
Pickett's Division consisted of only three small brigades —
Kemper's, Garnett's and Armistead's. Corse, with his brigade,
was left at Hanover Junction. Just before the order to charge
was given, the heroic Garnett appeared on horse-back to talce
command of his gallant brigade. He was not fit for the fray,
but could not be restrained. Instead of charging with his whole
corps and with a part of Hill's, Longstreet charged with these
two small divisions, Pickett's and Heth's.
The North Carolina Division had been engaged in a furious
fight the day before, and had lost heavily, and of course was
not in high feather. The annals of history will be searched in
vain for a charge as heroic as that of Pickett's men. They
charged from half a mile to three-quarters before they reached
the enemy's line. All the way they were under a furious can-
nonade from the front and from Little Round Top, and soon
were in reach of the musketry fire from Meade's lines. The
attack was made upon Meade's left center, which General Lee
believed (and correctly believed) was the weakest point in his
line. After going about two-thirds of the way Kemper, who
was on horse-back, was shot down, supposed to be mortally
wounded. Early in the charge I was shot, through the right
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 91
leg, and my horse mortally wounded, though able to take me
to the rear.* My first impulse was to get another horse and
go on in the charge.f I was on horse-back because I was not
physically able to make the charge on foot. I was suffering
intensely with my fistula, and could not, if my life depended
on it, have made that charge on foot. Garnett was on horse-
back and was shot down. The division went forward heroically,
its ranks being thinned every moment, but immediately supplied
by those from the rear. About the time I was wounded, I looked
to the left to see what was being done by the North Carolina
Division. It was then disintegrating, and according to the best
information never got up to the enemy's lines. Pickett's three
brigades rushed gallantly forward. Garnett was killed when
near the first line of the enemy, gallantly leading his men. They
*Hummer, my father's courier, who was ever at his side when there
was danger, saw that Father was wounded and his horse also. He took
the horse by the bridle and led him to the rear. Before he got beyond
the range of the musketry, he assisted Father from the horse and shot
the horse to put him out of his agony. He finally, after much difficulty,
got an ambulance to take Father to the field hospital, where his wound
Some years after the war, Dr. Clayton Coleman, Kemper's Brigade
Surgeon, told me that after Father's wound had been dressed he insisted
upon getting another horse and going back into the battle with his men.
This is confirmed by Hummer. My father had never told me of this
incident, and I asked him to give me the details. He said that because
of the excitement of the battle and his suffering from his wound, he
could not recall the details, but he did know that he tried to go back to
his men, and that his weakness from loss of blood made it impossible
for him to do so.
fGeneral Lee issued an order that all officers should go into this
charge on foot, so as to expose themselves as little as possible. I have
been told that only four officers went into the charge on horseback, the
three named above, of whom Garnett was killed, Kemper desperately
wounded, and my father wounded and his horse killed. The fourth
was a Colonel whose name I do not recall.
92 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
got up to within a few yards of the first line of the enemy, and
the gallant Armistead with his hat on his sword, ordered his
men to follow him, and he and the few survivors of the three
Brigades captured the first line of the enemy, but Armistead was
killed. At this time Federal reinforcements came up, and the
few gallant men who had captured the line were themselves
either killed or captured.
Thus ended the charge of the 3rd of July — a charge that will
go down in history as the most gallant ever made by any army.
T is beyond dispute, it seems to me, that if Longstreet had
made that attack earher in the morning, even with Pickett's
Division and the North CaroHna Division, he must have cap-
tured Meade's position and driven him from Cemetery Ridge.
It seems equally clear that if, when he did make the attack late
in the day, he had supported Pickett by the rest of his corps
consisting of two divisions, and by a part of Hill's corps — or all
of it, if necessary — even at that late hour he would have pene-
trated and held the lines of Meade; and General Lee's idea was
that if he could divide Meade's army by penetrating the line at
the left center, he would drive him in confusion from his posi-
tion, and the Confederate Cavalry on the right and left of his
flanks would follow up the advantage, and he would gain a
glorious victory, which as he told me on the march in Clarke
County, would probably result in the independence of the Con-
It is very sad to contemplate our failure at Gettysburg. It is
sad to think of the loss of so many heroes as fell at Gettysburg,
even if their death accomplished a great victory ; but when their
death accomplished nothing, it makes the reflection still
The North Carolinians maintain that their division also
reached the line of the enemy, but from the evidence on the
subject that is a mistake. The North Carolinians were very
brave and heroic in the war, and I would not derogate from
their bravery for any consideration, but still it is a truth of
history that they gave way before Pickett's men got to the
enemy's lines, and left Pickett's three depleted brigades entirely
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Before I was wounded and left the field, I saw that the North
CaroHna Division under Pettigrew was disintegrating, and there
is no question at all, in my mind, that these North Carolinians
never reached the enemy's line.
Gettysburg was thus lost to us, and what a loss it was! The
hopes of General Lee and of his gallant army, and of the Con-
federacy generally, were excited to a high pitch of enthusiastic
expectation of the results flowing from a victory at Gettysburg.
Lee and his victorious army had won all the battles that he had
fought. He went into Pennsylvania with an army of 60,000
men, that he thought was the best army on the planet and could
successfully meet any army that could be brought against it.
His views were very clearly expressed in an interview with Rev.
J. William Jones sometime after the war, which Mr. Jones
gives in his "Personal Reminiscences of General R. E. Lee,"
at page 156:
"In speaking of Jackson one day not long before his own
fatal illness, and of the irreparable loss the South sustained in
his death. General Lee said, with emphasis: Tf I had had
Stonewall Jackson at Gettysburg, we should have won a great
victory. And I feel confident that a complete success there
would have resulted in the establishment of our independence.' "
It is pretty well settled as a fact that a victory for Lee at Gettys-
burg would have resulted in recognition of the Confederate
States by the European powers, and been speedily followed by
a treaty of peace.
The charge of Pickett's Division was the admiration of all
who saw it, and is now the wonder of the world.
Now who was to blame for the loss of Gettysburg ? It is very
well settled as a historical fact that General Longstreet, by his
failure to execute with promptness and cordiality the orders of
General Lee, was the cause of the loss of Gettysburg. On the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 95
2nd of July General Lee ordered Longstreet to make an attack
on Meade's left and capture Little Round Top. Instead of
making the attack early in the morning Longstreet delayed the
attack until nearly four o'clock in the afternoon, and when he
marched up to take Round Top he was met by Sickel's Corps.
A desperate battle ensued for its possession, and ended by leaving
Little Round Top with the enemy. This was a serious loss to
General Lee. It was apparent to anybody who has looked over
that battlefield that Little Round Top commanded Meade's
line of battle, and the possession of it by General Lee would
have made Meade's lines untenable; but it was lost to us by the
failure of Longstreet to take it early in the morning, which he
could have accomplished probably without the loss of a man.
When he attempted to take it in the afternoon he lost 4,000 men.
General Lee determined to attack Meade's left center, and
gave the order to Longstreet to make the attack with his whole
corps, and half of Hill's corps, or all of it if he needed it. General
Gordon in his "Reminiscences of the Civil War," at page 160,
"It now seems certain that impartial military critics after
thorough investigation will consider the following as estab-
lished : That General Lee distinctly ordered Longstreet to attack
early the morning of the second day, and if he had done so,
half of the largest corps of Meade's army would not have been
in the fight; but Longstreet delayed the attack until four o'clock
in the afternoon, and thus lost his opportunity of occupying
Little Round Top, the key to the position, which he might have
done that morning without firing a shot or losing a man.
Second, that General Lee ordered Longstreet to attack at day-
break on the morning of the third day, and that he did not
attack until two or three o'clock in the afternoon, the artillery
opening at one. That General Lee according to the testimony
96 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
of Colonel Walter Taylor, Colonel C. S. Venable and General
A. L. Long, who were present when the order was given,
ordered Longstreet to make the attack on the last day with the
three divisions of his corps and two divisions of A. P. Hill's
corps, and that instead of doing so he sent 14,000 men to assail
Meade's army in his strong position and heavily entrenched.
Fourth — That the great mistake of the battle on the first day
would have been repaired on the second, and even on the third
day, if Lee's order had been vigorously executed; and that
General Lee died believing (the testimony on this point is over-
whelming) that he lost Gettysburg at last by Longstreet's dis-
obedience of orders."
The error committed on the first day, alluded to by General
Gordon above, was committed by Ewell. Our success was very
great on the first day, and General Gordon was driving the
enemy from Cemetery Ridge. He had gotten them almost
into a panic when General Ewell ordered him to retire. General
Gordon disobeyed this order and went on in pursuit. General
Ewell ordered him a second time to retire. General Gordon
was so impressed with the importance of his movement that at
two o'clock at night he went to General Ewell and begged for
permission to make a night attack and secure Cemetery Ridge.
He told General Ewell that he could hear distinctly that the
enemy were entrenching all night long on Seminary Heights,
but Ewell declined to give him permission to make the attack.
Col. Henderson, of the British Army, who wrote the splendid
"Life of Jackson," says in criticism of Longstreet's book on
Gettysburg, that Longstreet went into Pennsylvania against his
wishes, and did not give Lee generous support during the cam-
paign. How sad it is to reflect that General Longstreet, who
had been so honored by the Confederate Government, and was
trusted by General Lee, should have dashed the hopes of the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 97
Confederacy by his failure to execute the orders of his superior
oflEcer. It is pretty well established that President Davis wanted
to court-martial Longstreet, but Lee said, "No, Longstreet has
a large number of friends in the army, and if he is court-mar-
tialed and dismissed it will cause dissatisfaction among them,
and we are too few in numbers to alienate the feelings of any
portion of our army."
But Gettysburg was lost! It was unquestionably the high-
water mark of the war. Success at Gettysburg meant independ-
ence for the Confederacy. Failure, as it was demonstrated after-
wards, meant success for the Union, and death to the Con-
federacy. It is sad to look back and think of the lives that were
sacrificed at Gettysburg by reason of the failure of General
Longstreet to carry out General Lee's order. It is perfectly
plain to anybody that if Pickett's Division had been supported
by the other two divisions of Longstreet, and by the two divi-
sions of Hill, that these four divisions with Pickett and the
North Carolinians under Pettigrew, would have swept Meade
from Cemetery Ridge, defeated and destroyed his army, and put
Baltimore and Washington at the mercy of General Lee.
General Ewell, whose blunder on the first day caused the
failure to take Cemetery Ridge, succeeded the immortal Jack-
son in command of his corps. Ewell was a very peculiar but a
very gallant man. He was a very fine officer up to the second
battle of Manassas, where he lost his leg. He had in early life
addressed a young lady, who discarded him and married a Mr.
Brown. She came to him, a widow, when he was wounded,
and nursed him. He renewed his addresses. They were ac-
cepted, and they were married. He always referred to her as
his wife, Mrs. Brown.
I never thought General Ewell was a valuable officer after
the loss of his leg, and the acquisition of a wife. He told me
98 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
in person at Fort Warren, where both of us were in prison for
three months after the surrender of General Lee, that it took a
dozen blunders to lose Gettysburg, and he had committed a
good many of them.*
Did Pickett go with his division in the charge ? The evidence
is pretty strong on both sides of that question. No man who
was in that charge has ever been found, within my knowledge,
who saw Pickett during the charge. One of my soldiers whom
I met here at the laying of the corner-stone of the Jeff. Davis
monument in Monroe Park, told me that he was detailed to
carry water to Pickett and his Staff during the fight at Gettys-
burg. I asked him where were Pickett and his Staff ? He said
they were behind a lime-stone ledge of rocks, about lOo yards
in the rear of the position that we held just prior to the charge.
This ledge of rocks was as safe a place as if he had been lOO
miles from the battlefield. I understand a Confederate surgeon
says that he had his field hospital behind this ledge of rocks,
and that Picket was there during the charge of his division.f
Another strong argument on that side of the question con-
sists in the fact that neither Pickett nor any of his Staff was
killed or wounded, and not one of their horses was killed or
wounded, whereas every man who was known to have gone into
that charge, on horse-back, was killed or wounded, or had his
horse killed. Kemper was on horse-back and was dreadfully
wounded. I was on horse-back and was wounded, and my horse
killed. Garnett was on horse-back and was killed; and it is, I
*My father has frequently told me that the married men in the army
made as good soldiers as the unmarried men, but that his observation
was that whenever a man married during the war he became a less
tl was told by General L. L. Lomax, the Confederate representative
on the Gettysburg Commission, that the ledge of lime-stone rock, al-
though frequently referred to, had never been found or located.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
think, impossible to find a man who went into that charge on
horse-back who was not either killed or wounded; and it seems
the most improbable of events that Pickett and his Staff could
have gone into that charge on horse-back and all of them escape,
without wounds themselves and without their horses having
been killed or wounded.*
On the other hand, several of his Staff say that he did go into
the charge. But how far he went, or how near he was to his
division, they have not informed us; General Lee met General
Pickett after the charge and said, "You and your division have
covered yourselves with glory" ; I leave this question to be deter-
mined according to the feelings and judgment of every man who
reads what I have said.
The losses in Pickett's Division were fearful.f Every field
officer was shot down, except one. Col. C. S. Peyton, of the
19th Regiment, who had lost his arm in a previous battle was
the only field officer left, and he was in command of the brigade.
My dear old regiment was commanded by a Lieutenant. It
laid down under fire during the artillery duel 205 strong. Five
of them were killed in the artillery duel, and 200 responded
promptly and bravely to the order to charge. After the charge
was over I had improvised a pair of crutches and hobbled out
to see who was left of my faithful and gallant regiment. Only
10 of those who went in responded to the roll call — 190 out
of 200 were gone.
It nearly broke my heart to look over the 10 surviving mem-
bers of the gallant 8th Regiment, that had stood by me in so
♦Because of these statements I had the monument over my father's
grave in Hollywood inscribed "Wounded in the charge of Pickett's
Division at Gettysburg," rather than "Wounded in Pickett's charge."
t232 killed; 1157 wounded; 1499 missing. Vol. 29, Part II, Official
Records, pp. 329-30. A total of 2,888 casualties out of 6,405 present for
duty at Fredericksburg, May 20, 1863.
100 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
many battles and obeyed my orders with so much alacrity.
I put back into the ranks of the 8th Regiment the detailed men
(the cooks and the ambulance men), and it made the regiment
about 25 strong.
I have frequently been invited to go over the battlefield of
Gettysburg, but I never could summon the courage to do so.
If I w^ere to go over the line of our charge I w^ould say, "Here
fell Captain Green"; "Here fell Captain Bissell"; "Here fell
Captain Grayson"; "Here fell Captain Ayres" — and a host of
others. It would nearly kill me to see where so many brave
men fell — all of them among the best friends I ever had.
While we were charging down towards Cemetery Ridge we
passed Will Adams, a gallant soldier of my regiment, who was
wounded. He looked into my face and said, "Colonel, I'm hit."
I shall never forget his appealing look, and the confidence in
me which it seemed to evidence. It seemed to say to me that I
would see that he was properly cared for and his wound dressed.
If he had died, that look would have haunted me as long as
I lived. I called to a soldier and told him to take Adams from
the field. I thank God he lived, and is now a prosperous mer-
chant in Middleburg, Loudoun County.*
The Berkeleys were all wounded, and three of them captured.
They were among those gallant men of my regiment who
charged with Armistead to the second line of Meade's fortifica-
*My father has frequently told me that as he was going into the battle
he saw Major Spessard of the 28th Regiment sitting on the ground
holding a youth's head in his lap. As Father approached, Major Spessard
looked up and said, "Look at my poor boy, Colonel." He must have
been dead then, for in a short time Father saw him kiss him tenderly
and gently lay his head on the ground. Then the Major rose to his
feet, put his sword to his shoulder, and ordered "Forward, boys!" and
continued in the charge. Could there be greater heroism, or a more
pathetic and touching scene?
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON loi
tion. Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Berkeley was wounded, but
not seriously, and made his escape.
Meade expected another charge from General Lee. Colonel
Norborne Berkeley, who was captured, afterwards told me that
the first inquiry made of him when he was captured, by the
officers on the other side, was, "Will General Lee charge again?"
General Lee was in no condition to make another charge,
but he was ready to repel any attack that Meade might make.
Meade conducted the fights of the three days with great skill
and judgment, and his soldiers fought well. While he repulsed
Lee, his army was very much shattered by the three days' fights,
and he felt in no condition to renew the fight by an attack on
Lee the next day.
I sent out and "impressed" a buggy, and put my war-horse
"Morgan" to it — I was not riding Morgan in the charge — and
the next morning Colonel Berkeley and myself in the buggy com-
menced our return to Virginia with the wagon train. General
Lee commenced his retreat the same day, was not pressed by
General Meade, and took his army safely across the Potomac
into Virginia. Although our loss was very severe, and the loss
of the battle in its consequences fatal to us. General Lee brought
off with him ten or twelve thousand prisoners, and some material
of war captured. Colonel Berkeley and I made our way to Clarke
County. He stopped with his friend John Smith, and I stopped
for a few days with my brother-in-law, James V. Weir. I soon
started to join my dear wife and my dear son, who were then at
New Glasgow, in the County of Amherst, boarding with my
friend Mr. P. D. Lipscombe and his wife.
I believed that General Kemper was dead. I heard they were
making his coffin when I left Gettysburg. When I passed
through Madison Courthouse (his home) I heard a rumor that
he still lived, and after awhile he came back to the City of Rich-
102 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
mond, and though unable to do field duty, rendered valuable
service to the Confederacy.
When I reached the station three or four miles from New^
Glasgow, there vv^ere several other wounded Confederates there,
and no conveyance. We could not walk, and we had to wait
until we could send to the town for a wagon. The news soon
reached my wife and son that I was at the depot, and my little
boy, then eight years old, ran with young Lipscombe almost
down to the depot to meet me. My wife was soon in my arms.
She had suffered all the privations of war, with a heroism equal
to the soldier in the field, and up to that time, and to the end
of the war, I never heard a complaint from her.
I was about six weeks absent from my regiment, by reason
of my wound, but as soon as I felt able to do duty, I returned
HAD not been long with my regiment before I received
my commission as Brigadier-General, dating from Gettysburg.
I was directed to take my brigade, which had been almost anni-
hilated in the Gettysburg campaign, down to Chaffin's Farm,
about eight miles below Richmond, and rest and recuperate
and reorganize it. General Henry A. Wise had occupied that
position for a long time previous, and had built very com-
fortable log cabins for his brigade, so that my weary, gallant
men of the 8th, i8th, 19th, 28th and 56th, as well as the 32nd
Regiments, went right into these cabins prepared by General
I made my headquarters at the overseer's house of Mr.
Chaffin. It was a small house — probably not over a story and
a half high — with four or five rooms, but made very com-
fortable headquarters. At this time Colonel Norborne Berkeley
had been made Colonel of the 8th Regiment; his brother,
Edmund, Lieutenant-Colonel, and his brother William, Major,
while Charlie was a Captain. It was called "The Berkeley
The i8th Regiment was commanded by Colonel Henry
Carrington, a man of great gallantry and efficiency.
The 19th was commanded by Colonel Henry Gaunt.
The 28th was commanded by Colonel William Watts, of
Roanoke, a very gallant man but not much of a tactician, and
one of the warmest friends of my life.
The 56th was commanded by Colonel William E. Green,
of Charlotte County, who succeeded Colonel William D. Stuart,
who was mortally wounded at Gettysburg.
104 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
The 32nd, which had been temporarily assigned to my
Brigade, was commanded by Colonel Edgar Montague, a
splendid man and officer.
These were all splendid regimental commanders.
My Staff consisted of Charles F. Linthicum, Adjutant-
General; J. Simpkins Jones, Aide-de-Camp; Edward Fitzhugh,
Assistant Adjutant; George Jones, Quarter-Master, and J. R.
Charles Linthicum was one of the best and bravest men I
ever knew. He was a Northern Methodist preacher, and be-
cause of that I would not invite him to my house when he
preached on the Brentsville Circuit prior to the war. The next
year, 1861, he was sent to Middleburg, and when the militia
regiment was ordered out, at some alarm at Leesburg, he took
the place of one of his members who had a large family, and
came with this militia regiment to Leesburg. He soon left the
militia and joined the 8th Regiment. Whenever there was a
call for volunteers for hazardous duty, Charlie Linthicum was
the first man to step to the front.
At the first battle of Manassas, just before we went into the
fight, he asked my permission to pray, which I gladly gave him.
He made a very earnest prayer for our success and safety, and
I do not think my boys fought any the worse by reason of it.
He behaved gallantly in that fight, and when it was over I
detailed him as Chaplain of the Regiment, and then got him
a commission as such.
When Pickett was wounded at Gaines' Mill, and the com-
mand of the brigade devolved on me, I detailed Linthicum as
my Adjutant-General. He was very efficient and became very
fond of the duty, and after Garnett was assigned to the brigade
he obtained for Linthicum his commission as Adjutant-General;
when I succeeded Garnett, Linthicum was retained as my Adju-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 105
tant-General. He was perfectly fearless. He could undergo
more fatigue than most any man I ever knew. He was always
ready to obey my orders. He had the confidence of every man
in the brigade, and nobody ever failed in obedience to the orders
because conveyed by Charlie Linthicum. He was killed at the
battle of second Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864, and I have never
ceased to grieve for the loss of my dear friend.
At the time I was ordered to Chaffin's Farm, my wife and
son were still at Mr. Lipscombe's. I found I could make them
comfortable at Chaffin's Farm in my headquarters in the over-
seer's house and invited them down to spend the winter with
me. They gladly accepted the invitation and as soon as possible
came to me. My sister Mary Brent, now Mrs. Foster, came
afterwards and stayed until Christmas.
This was an exceedingly pleasant winter, notwithstanding the
war, to my wife and son. I appointed Eppa on my Staff. He
believed the appointment was a legal one, and it was very in-
teresting to see how he carried my commands around. I had
brigade drills every few days, and on one occasion I sent an order
by Eppa to Colonel Edmund Berkeley of the 8th Regiment. He
started off, riding the horse that my body-servant used, in full
uniform, and provided with spurs on his bare feet. He delivered
the order and as soon as the soldiers saw the spurs on his bare feet
they began to yell at him, "Come out of them spurs," "I see your
ears sticking out," and many similar remarks. Soon his horse
became very excited and restless and Eppa's legs were too short
to keep the spurs out of his sides and the horse ran away, and
the whole line of the brigade cheered him. I was in agony for
the safety of my son, who was only eight years old; but I did not
budge from my position. Eppa sat and managed his horse
admirably, but he could not stop him until he ran into the stable
some distance from the parade grounds. After he had been
io6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Captain on my Staff a month, he undertook to draw his pay,
but failed. For the first time he found that he was not legally a
Staff officer of my brigade. His mother used to teach him in the
day reading, writing and spelling, and I taught him arithmetic
at night. All that I had before the war was gone, and I was
afraid that if I was killed my boy would have no education, and
one night I put him in long division. His mind was so thor-
oughly taken up with the brigade that I could not get him to
think about his arithmetic, and I whipped him, and before bed-
time he could do any sum in long division. But I felt very
unhappy about it, and determined then and there that I never
would give him another "lick" during the war. I did not want
him to think of it in case I was killed. He knew more men in
the brigade by name, than I did. He was riding around one
day and passed the Guard House where I had just put three
prisoners for some disobedience, and they saw him coming.
One of them called to him, "Are you as mean a man as your
father? If you are, they had better kill you now." He came
to the house the maddest boy that I ever saw. I did not mind
it at all, believing the poor fellow's resentment at the punish-
ment was natural.
When Christmas Day came somebody sent me a turkey, and
my wife and myself determined we would give a little dinner
party. Simpkins Jones, who was the most unselfish and gener-
ous man I ever knew (except Norborne Berkeley), sat at the
foot of the table. By the time dinner was announced Simpkins
was drunk, and when drunk he couldn't talk. It was very
amusing to see him bowing to the guests to know if they would
have a piece of turkey, without being able to utter a word.
I laugh over it every time I think of it. But he was a gallant,
good man, and was very badly wounded at the second battle
of Cold Harbor, where poor Linthicum was killed.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 107
While I was at Chaffin's Farm there were two raids on Rich-
mond which were very alarming, and I was ordered with my
brigade to the defence of the city on both occasions. The first
time my wife and son went with me to Richmond and stayed at
the house of a relative of hers, Mrs. Harvey. I was two or three
miles in front of the city, near the place where The Brook
crosses Brook Turnpike, guarding against this raid, and my wife
started Eppa with a basket of provisions for me, prepared by
herself and some ladies of Richmond. He didn't know where
I was — didn't know in what direction to seek me, and nobody
whom he met could tell him, but notwithstanding that I got my
basket of provisions and enjoyed it very much.* The next time
I was ordered out to meet this raid my place at Chaffin's was
taken by a brigade of home guards formed of the Department
Clerks in Richmond. My wife and son were left at Chaffin's
under the care of the commanding officer. The commandant
soon discovered Eppa and found that he was a Captain on my
Staff. He immediately gave him promotion, making him
Major, with a star on his collar — a most unfortunate thing for
*When this occurred I was about eight years old. I had with me a
colored boy of about the same age. We set out on foot early in the
morning, carrying our basket. We finally reached a picket who refused
to let us go farther to the front. I asked him to send me to the com-
manding officer, which he did. When I told the officer my errand, he
told me I could go no farther, and that I was then too far to the front,
but that if I would leave the basket with him he would send it by one
of his Staff officers to Father. I evidently showed in my face my un-
willingness to give up the basket and my apprehension my father would
never see it. He answered my look by assuring me that my father should
certainly receive it. I finally delivered the basket to him and my father
did receive it, with everything in it, including the bottle of whiskey, un-
touched. He has frequently told me how much he enjoyed it. I regret
I do not remember this officer's name. He was so nice to me and so
faithful in executing the trust which I had reluctantly confided to him.
io8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
the boy, for when my brigade returned to Chaffin's Farm the
men all called him a militia Major, and it nearly killed him.
He wished a thousand times that the star had never been put
on his coat collar.
In the spring of the year 1864 Butler made his appearance
with a large army between Fortress Monroe and Richmond.
Meade was superseded in chief command by General Grant.
Grant retained Meade as second in command, and the com-
bination was a very strong one — Grant with his obstinacy in
fighting, and Meade with his strategy. Meade had moved out
his army into the southern part of Orange County, and General
Lee met him at Mine Run. This was a pretty hard fight, with-
out any special advantage to either side.
Then followed, between the 5th and 20th of May, the battles
of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania Courthouse. These were
terrific battles. Lee had only a part of his army, most of Long-
street's forces being in North Carolina. Meade had more than
three to one, and yet General Lee repulsed him, with heavy
loss, in each fight.
While Grant was fighting these battles Sheridan made his
famous raid on Richmond, and this was one of the raids that
I was called from Chaffin's Farm to meet. Sheridan's cavalry
had become a very formidable body. The Federal Cavalry for
the first half of the war was of little use, but Sheridan's cavalry
was composed of picked men from the whole army, and con-
stituted a splendid body of horsemen.
"Jeb" Stuart immediately started out to intercept Sheridan,
and in a very considerable fight at the Yellow Tavern he was
mortally wounded, and died the next day at the home of his
brother-in-law on Grace Street near Monroe, Richmond, Va.
My brigade in the meantime was in the trenches around
Richmond — what was called the "outer fortifications." I was
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 109
ordered a mile or two up the Brook Turnpike to assist the
cavalry in resisting this raid. I found a Colonel Wilson of North
Carolina in command. I took command of the infantry and
cavalry and formed my line of battle, with the cavalry on my
left, and was just about to charge the enemy when General
Braxton Bragg, then acting as military adviser to the President,
sent a peremptory order to me to return to the fortifications.
He was paralyzed with apprehension that Sheridan would get
by me and into Richmond before he could be resisted. I was
deeply mortified at being recalled, and felt confident that I could
have captured the whole party. Indeed prisoners told me after-
ward that they were on the eve of surrendering, and were about
to shoot their horses. When I retired Sheridan made his escape
across the Chickahominy, at a ford defended by Colonel Robert
Randolph, of Warrenton, who lost his life in a gallant defense
of the crossing at that ford.
Poor General "J^b" Stuart ! What a magnificent man he was.
He was the finest cavalry leader this continent ever saw. Forrest
was his equal in fighting, and his equal in strategy, but was not
his equal as an outpost commander. "J^b" Stuart was the best
"eyes and ears" that the army ever had. He has had no equal
as a commander of cavalry since the field marshals of Napoleon.
He was a warm, merry-hearted man, always ready to sing or
dance or fight, and General Lee could not supply his place.
I returned to Chaffin's Farm. Butler was coming up the
Peninsula with a large force. I was constantly called on from
Richmond to report Butler's movements, and every day I had
to send down my devoted and gallant Adjutant, Charlie Lin-
thicum, to reconnoitre. It became evident that Grant would try
to flank Lee and get into Richmond. This made it necessary
for Lee to have all the troops which he could bring to his army.
I was ordered to join him at Hanover Junction. My wife and
no AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Eppa returned to Lynchburg. My good wife went without a
murmur. She was a brave woman and well fitted for the wife
of a soldier. Confederate money had depreciated to such an
extent at that time that my pay would not support my wife,
Eppa and myself. I had to draw rations partly in the army and
partly in Lynchburg, and they lived on these rations. On one
occasion they were reduced to a single beef bone. My wife put
it on to boil for a pot of soup for dinner, and going out to visit
a neighbor in the house left Eppa to mind the soup, with strict
injunctions not to touch the pot; but boylike he thought he
must stir the soup, and in doing so turned it over and spilled
every drop. Their last chance for dinner was gone, and my
wife did not have a mouthful, but she was able to give Eppa
some bread and molasses.
WENT to Hanover Junction on the 23rd of May, 1864,
where I united with the balance of Pickett's Division, and joined
the main army of General Lee. The 32nd Regiment had been
from some cause assigned to my brigade, and the i8th to Corse's.
At Hanover Junction the 32nd Regiment was returned to Corse
and the i8th Regiment to me.
The 32nd was commanded by Colonel Edgar Montague, an
uncle of our present Governor. He was a splendid soldier and
splendid man, and while his regiment was very small it was
composed of the very best material. We were sorry to part from
the 32nd Regiment and its members sorry to leave us.
General Grant soon after our arrival at Hanover Junction
made his appearance on the north side of the North Anna River.
General Lee was prepared to meet him, but Grant made no fight
at this point, but moved to Cold Harbor near our old battlefield
of Gaines' Mill.
On the 3rd of June, 1864, the battle of second Cold Harbor
was fought. It was one of the bloodiest and hardest fought
battles of the war. The Federal loss was 13,000; General Lee's
loss was 1,000. This loss of Grant's was incurred in distinct
and separate charges of different corps. He became impatient
and ordered a general charge along the whole line. His soldiers
with one accord refused to make the charge. I have never seen
dead bodies lay as thick as in front of our breast-works at second
Cold Harbor. I got into a terrible place there. My brigade was
ordered to send its smallest regiment to fill up a space in the line,
and to hold the rest in reserve. Being held in reserve always
means trouble. You are sure to be sent to the worst place along
112 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
the line. Accordingly, in a short time I was ordered down to
the right, some half a mile or three-quarters. The enemy had
occupied a swamp which crossed our line of entrenchments some
hundred yards wide. They enfilladed our line and killed a good
many of our men. I was ordered to protect that part of the
line. When I reached there I found General Clingman, of
North Carolina, occupying the line to the right of this swamp,
but not up to it. I filled up that gap with my brigade, and the
balance I formed at right angles down this swamp. My men
were picked off by sharp-shooters from two directions. General
Clingman sent word to General Hoke, who was in command
of that part of the line, that if he did not drive the enemy from
his front he would vacate the line. General Hoke sent word
to me to drive the enemy from Clingman's front. I replied
that I would not do it; that I would unite with Clingman in
a common movement and drive the enemy from his front and
mine. General Hoke then sent me word to arrange for a joint
movement with Clingman, and drive the enemy away. Cling-
man's line was protected from sharp-shooters by traverses. I
sent my dear friend and gallant Adjutant Charlie Linthicum,
to Clingman to arrange for this joint assault on the enemy.
In going around one of these traverses he was shot through the
head and instantly killed.
How I deplored his loss! I never supplied his place. He was
the best Adjutant-General in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Captain Ed. Fitzhugh succeeded him.
I abandoned this joint movement with Clingman and went
down to see General Hoke on my left about three hundred yards.
My men were falling all around me. I never made better speed
in my life. I arranged with General Hoke that he should send
out a strong skirmish line and attack the enemy in this swamp,
on its right flank, and that I would detail every other man of my
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 113
brigade, who would unite in this attack upon their position upon
hearing his guns. This was executed splendily and we got rid
of the sharp-shooters in the swamp. That night I received
orders from Hoke that upon hearing from Chngman before
day the next morning, we were to vacate that line and retire
to a line that had been constructed in the rear. I waited most
anxiously for an hour or two before day for the message from
Clingman. I at last discovered the first streaks of dawn, and
hearing nothing from Clingman I sent to him to know if it was
not time for him to move. To my surprise and indignation he
had vacated the line and retired without notifying me, leaving
our whole front open to the enemy. I retired my brigade quietly
and safely back to the new line. It was reported, and I expect
truly, that when General Grant's men refused to make the gen-
eral charge, he reported to Lincoln that his men had refused to
fight and he must treat for peace. Swinton, the army corre-
spondent of Grant's Army, was called in to write a peace
preparatory to a treaty of peace. Before this was done Lincoln
determined that he would off -set Lee's victories with Johnston's
defeats in Georgia. I don't know that this is true, but it was
told by an army officer to General Heth not very long after
General Lee expected to fight Grant at Malvern Hill and
gathered his army there. He had sent most of his cavalry
around to Petersburg and could not at that time get informa-
tion of the movements of Grant. It was said that General Lee
was in a furious passion — one of the few times during the war.
When he did get mad he was mad all over. He was mad
because he could not find out what Grant was doing. He was
soon informed, however, that Grant had crossed the James River
and was marching on Petersburg, and that Beauregard, who
had been defending the line between Richmond and Petersburg
114 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
against the advance of General Butler, had abandoned his lines,
and hastened to the defense of Petersburg.
On the i6th of June, 1864, General Pickett was ordered to
march his division as rapidly as possible to save Drewry's Bluff.
This was across the James River from Chaffin's Farm, and I was
familiar with all the byroads, etc. I was ordered to take the
lead and go through woods and cross the country without regard
to roads, and get to Drewry's Bluflf as soon as possible. I think
my march on that occasion was the fastest on record. We
crossed the James River on a pontoon bridge, and found
Drewry's Bluff safe. We marched on down the Richmond and
Petersburg Turnpike a mile or two below Drewry's Bluff where
we struck the enemy.
General Butler in the meantime had taken possession of
Beauregard's abandoned works and turned them on us. I was
in front and when I struck the enemy, I ordered my brigade to
left-face and charge. I have never seen anything done so hand-
somely. We drove the enemy past Beauregard's abandoned
works, and in their own line, and turned our works upon them.
The other brigades of the division followed mine, and they
fought on my right and left, and before night we had recaptured
the whole of Beauregard's abandoned line.
General Lee was perfectly delighted at our success, and pub-
lished the only undignified order that he ever issued, in the
"Cult's House, 5-1/2 P. M.
17 June, 1864.
Lieutenant-General R. H. Anderson,
Commanding Longstreet's Corps.
I take great pleasure in presenting to you my congratulations
upon the conduct of the men of your corps. I believe that they
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 115
will carry anything they are put against. We tried very hard
to stop Pickett's men from capturing the breast-works of the
enemy, but could not do it. I hope his loss has been small.
I am, with great respect.
Your obedient servant,
R. E. Lee,
Major Drewry, a prominent citizen of the neighborhood,
witnessed the charge of my brigade on that occasion and never
ceases to speak of it wherever he sees me. He said that every
man in my brigade seemed to know his duty — exactly what to
do — and did it with a gallantry he had never seen equalled.
E remained in this fortified line for a long time. General
Butler's troops were opposed to us. Our skirmish lines were
within 35 yards of each other at one time, and dear old General
Lee rode around the lines with me on one occasion, and said,
"Who are those people out yonder?" I said it was the Yankee
skirmish line. He said, "What are they doing there ? We are
in the habit of believing this country belongs to us. Drive them
away, sir; drive them away." I told him, "All right." That
night I made a night-attack on their skirmish line and did drive
it away, some distance back.
In the meantime Grant laid siege to Petersburg, and while
he was not a brilliant military man, he was the first to conceive
the best mode of subjugating the South. He saw that we could
not supply the loss of our men, while he could get recruits to
any number. He, therefore, determined that he would wear
Lee out by attrition, and if he lost ten men to Lee's one, he
saw that the end was certain, and that Lee must eventually
surrender. Acting on this idea, he extended his line until Gen-
eral Lee's line became so thin it was hardly able to resist attack.
General Lee's line at this time extended from in front of Rich-
mond beyond Petersburg — a distance of nearly 35 miles.
Three brigades of Pickett's Division, which had been relieved
by Mahone, were on the south side of James River; while my
brigade returned to the north side. In March, 1865, General
Lee had 35,000 men, and Grant about 150,000. Pickett was
ordered to Five Forks to meet the extended line of General
Grant. I was ordered to report to General Lee on Hatcher's
Run. General Pickett had a good force of infantry and Fitz-
ii8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
hugh Lee's and William H. F. Lee's cavalry. He drove the
enemy back to Dinwiddie Courthouse.
While Pickett was fighting near Dinwiddie Courthouse, on
March 31, 1865, I, with two other small brigades was ordered
out on the road which led to Five Forks, with the view of keep-
ing communication with Pickett open. We had hardly formed
our line of battle when a division of Warren's Fifth corps
marched upon us. We had no orders to attack, and my idea
was to hold our ground and receive the attack from the enemy ;
but a Lieutenant in the iSth Regiment named Holland who
had been promoted for gallantry, rushed out in front of his com-
pany and waving his sword said, "Follow me, boys!" This was
all the order that the three brigades had to charge, but they did
charge, in magnificent style, and drove this division back to
Gravelly Run, nearly a mile.
I think every man in my brigade acted heroically in that
charge, only a short time before the surrender. As we were
driving the enemy. Captain E. C. Fitzhugh, my Adjutant, who
had succeeded poor Linthicum, was struck in the forehead and
down he fell. Colonel Green, of the 56th Regiment, said,
"Poor Fitz! Forward, Boys!" and on we went; but not long
afterwards we were joined by Fitzhugh, who was only stunned,
and he continued in the charge.
General Lee was delighted at our success and sent word to
me to hold my position, if possible, and sent Wise's brigade to
extend my line on the left.
Warren sent out another division. I ordered my men to
hold their fire until they came close. The order was obeyed,
and when we opened upon this fresh division, the line of the
enemy gave way and one-third of them broke and ran. The
other two-thirds stood under fire, reorganized their line, and
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 119
charged us with great gallantry. If we had not retired in great
haste all of us would have been captured. I have rarely seen
more gallantry than was displayed by Warren's division on that
We went back to the fortifications at Hatcher's Run. I had
three bullet holes through my clothes in the fight. One bullet
went through my flannel shirt. Its direction was changed by
my sword belt which it pierced. Another struck my scabbard
and bent it nearly double. When I reported to General Lee,
he looked at my clothes all torn by the bullets, and said: "I wish
you would sew those places up. I don't like to see them." I
said, "General Lee, allow me to go back home and see my wife
and I will have them sewed up." He said, "The idea of talking
about going to see wives ; it is perfectly ridiculous, sir" ; and was
rather amused at it.*
Pickett was driven back from Dinwiddle Courthouse to Five
Forks. Sheridan was reinforced by Warren's corps which I
had intercepted, and Pickett suffered a terrible repulse. His
command was all scattered in every direction. I was ordered
by General Lee to go to his support, and to cross the fields, with-
out regard to roads. He furnished me with a guide. We made
a very rapid march. When I reached the rear of Pickett's posi-
*Dr. Mason Graham Ellzey, my father's brigade surgeon, thus speaks
of him on the retreat, in his unpublished book, "The Cause We Lost
and the Land We Love":
"Just then our Brigade came in flushed with victory, and march-
ing in proud array, that other grand man and war-seasoned soldier,
General Eppa Hunton, riding at their head his old war steed which
had borne him on so many hard fought fields; the General's coat
ripped across the breast and shoulder by a fragment of shell, and
the scabbard of his sword bent nearly double by a minnie ball; the
joy of battle lighting his noble countenance, he too appeared, as
he was, one of the noblest and grandest of men."
120 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
tion at Five Forks — I could not hear where Pickett or his men
were, but I did meet with some portion of Fitz Lee's cavalry.
I was joined that night by Bushrod Johnson with two brigades,
and we were under his command. He was a Major General.*
The next day we heard the melancholy news that Petersburg
and Richmond had been evacuated, and we began the mourn-
ful retreat towards Appomattox Courthouse. Fitzhugh Lee's
cavalry was with us. It was several days before I met with and
joined Pickett's Division. The enemy pressed us very hard,
and once, at least, I had to form line with my brigade for the
cavalry to reorganize behind it. Bushrod Johnson became
demoralized, and I told Fitzhugh Lee that he must take com-
mand of the cavalry and infantry or we would all be captured.
Lee did so and conducted the retreat very well.
*This interesting incident occurred during the retreat. General G. W.
C. Lee was President Davis' military aide during most of the war. He
was very restless in this position and anxious to be in the field, and it
is said that he only remained with Mr. Davis because his father urged
him to do so. However, a short time before the end he resigned his
position and went into the field. During the retreat it happened that his
brigade and my father's were close to each other and there were no other
troops near. General Lee, who was a major general, when he learned
that these two brigades were the only troops in that section, sought my
father and said, "General Hunton, you and I are the only generals here,
but I outrank you and am entitled to the command of these troops; but
it would be absurd for me with my limited experience in the field to
be your superior officer, with your experience and brilliant and splendid
record during the entire war, and I insist upon your taking command
of both brigades." My father of course declined to do as General Lee
requested him. The incident, however, shows the inherent modesty,
generosity and chivalry of this knightly gentleman and gallant soldier
who bore himself superbly while in command of a brigade for a short
time before the end came. It is the universal belief of General Lee's
friends that if he had not yielded to his sense of duty and remained
with Mr. Davis he would have made a brilliant record, a record com-
mensurate with the promise he gave when he graduated first in his
class at West Point.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 121
We came to a very deep stream, with a bridge across it, the
enemy pressing us very hard. I v^as ordered by General Fitz-
hugh Lee to hold the enemy until all the command (both
infantry and cavalry) had passed over the bridge, and when
I attempted to cross, I had to fight on three sides. I had
flankers out on each side, and a skirmish line in the rear.
Captain Charles U. Williams, who was on General Corse's
Staff, witnessed this crossing, and he never ceased to talk about
it. He said that I formed a hollow square and crossed the bridge
in that formation, fighting on four sides.*
We united with Pickett's Division and marched on towards
Appomattox. At Sailor's Creek we were guarding a wagon
train, and on the other side of the creek Colonel Huger had
been attacked and lost some of his artillery. Pickett's Division
was ordered across the creek to recapture this artillery. We did
recapture a portion of it, and formed our line of battle to resist
Custer's cavalry. Custer made very many gallant charges upon
our line with his cavalry, but we had no trouble in repelling
them. But every time we would face to the right and resume
our retreat, Custer would charge us, and we would have to
*During this retreat an incident happened which General Mat Ransom,
who for many years was U. S. Senator from North Carolina, used fre-
quently to relate:
He, General Wise, my father and possibly others, were watering their
horses at a trough and General Wise began to criticize General Lee for not
ending the war, the result of which he said was inevitable, and could only
result in the further sacrifice of life. He finally said that General Lee
would be guilty of the murder of every soldier, who, after that time, was
killed. General Ransom said my father rose in his stirrups and said,
"General Wise, you are a damned traitor." General Ransom said he ex-
pected pistols to be drawn at once and the firing to begin, but that to his
infinite surprise and pleasure General Wise turned to him with a smile,
and said, "Ransom, all the damned fools have not been killed yet." The
jesting manner in which General Wise dealt with the matter ended
pleasantly what at one time promised to be serious.
122 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
turn and fight. This was done that the infantry might sur-
My line was very thin — a single line — and the men not very
near together. My dear and gallant friend General Terry rode
up and asked me to lend him a regiment to extend his line. I
told him I could not spare one. He said if he did not get a regi-
ment he would be flanked. I sent him the 8th Regiment — the
smallest I had — and had to increase the space between my sol-
diers to fill up the gap left.
While we were fighting General Custer, I reported to General
Pickett and to General Anderson that the enemy were sur-
rounding us with infantry — I caught the gleam of their bayonets
through a gap in the woods. When it was too late, General
Anderson issued the order to Pickett, that his men should cut
their way out the best they could ; but every time we attempted
to move forward Custer would charge, and we would have to
turn and fight.
While this was going on, some six or eight troopers of Custer's
had gotten in our rear. They made a charge on our line. This
charge happened to be where General Pickett and his Staff were
located, on horse-back. They all ducked their heads down by
their horses' necks and galloped ingloriously to the rear. Gallant
General Corse, who was always ready on such an occasion,
faced one of his companies to the rear and killed the last man
*General Fitz Lee, without knowing that I had heard this story from
my father, told me of the incident and that he had ordered General Corse
to about-face one of his companies and fire on them.
Judge Wallace of Fredericksburg, without knowing that I had heard the
story before, told me again of the occurrence, and said he was one of the
squad of Corse's Brigade which fired upon Custer's men and emptied
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 123
I saw no more of Pickett until long after the war.
Very soon, the enemy's infantry appeared in our rear, and
my gallant brigade, fighting front and rear, was compelled to
surrender; and to show the splendid metal of my dear soldiers,
most of them broke their guns rather than surrender them.
I surrendered to one of Custer's Staff officers, and when he
demanded my sword I threw it as far as I could into the sassafras
bushes. It may be in that spot today. This Staff officer, whose
name I do not recall (I wish I could), ordered me to double-
quick to the rear. I told him I could not. I was too ill and
exhausted to be able to double-quick. He said, "You must."
I said I would not, that I could not double-quick if my life
depended on it. He said, "Well, I only wanted to get you out
of the range of these stray bullets that are flying over the field.
I don't want you to be killed while a prisoner in my hands."
I told him it was very kind of him, but I could not do it. Just
then one of the Federal soldiers passed by on an old Confederate
horse — the hardest looking animal you can possibly imagine —
as poor as a snake — with a blind bridle on and an old saddle
without a girth. The Staff officer dismounted the Federal sol-
dier, put me on the horse, and in that condition I went to the
rear. Soon afterwards Colonel Huger was brought up, and
this Staff officer turned us over to two soldiers, and told them
that we were not to be restrained in anything except a desire
It was a very cold night — although on the 6th of April —
and Huger and myself went down to where the balance of the
brigade was, to share a blanket with some of the soldiers. Soon
after getting there, General Custer sent for me and for Colonel
Huger. We went to his headquarters. He had heard that I was
sick. I had chronic diarrhea and had been ordered by my
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
brigade surgeon to leave the army on sick leave. This with my
fistula made my time hard indeed, and when I was captured,
I took it for granted, if sent to prison, I would die. General
Custer, upon hearing that I was sick, sent his physician to me
with a bottle of imported French brandy, and furnished me
with a hair mattress to sleep on. He was as kind as a man
could be, and I shall never forget his generous treatment.*
Thus ended my military career — on the 6th day of April,
1865, three days before the end came at Appomattox. I had
been in command of the 8th Regiment, and successively Pickett's
Brigade, Garnett's Brigade and my brigade (named after its
several commanders), and no man in the army ever had a better
brigade than mine was.
At the same time, on this memorable 6th of April, 1865,
Ewell's corps also was captured with, I think, seven general
officersjt very many subordinate officers and a very large number
of privates. The next day we were sent to Nottoway Junction —
the junction of the Richmond and Danville and Norfolk and
Western Roads. It was snowing, although the 7th of April.
We were conducted to a big log fire at General Grant's head-
quarters. Grant was at the front, but quite a number of his
*My father was elected to Congress in 1872, and took his seat in 1873,
and was appointed a member of the Committee on Military Affairs.
Charges were brought against General Custer, the nature of which I do
not recall; but I know my father thought they were inspired by the fact
that Custer was a Democrat. The charges were referred to the Military
Committee. He put his defense and all his papers in my father's keeping.
I never saw him more deeply and earnestly interested than in Custer's de-
fense. I think nothing came of the investigation and that the charges
were never pressed.
tLt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell, Maj. Gen. Joseph B. Kershaw, Maj. Gen.
G. W. C. Lee, Brig. Gen. Eppa Hunton, Brig. Gen. Seth W. Barton, Brig.
Gen. Dudley M. Du Bose, Brig. Gen. Montgomery D. Corse.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 125
staff officers were present. We had not been there long before
hot whiskey punch was handed around. At night a residence
in the Httle village was taken by one of Grant's staff officers and
all the captured general officers were sent to this house for the
night. I found the house was occupied by Withers Waller, a
very old and intimate friend of mine from Stafford County,
who had refugeed with his family to this point.
The next day we started for City Point. The general officers
were provided with ambulances, but we had very often to get
out and walk and let the foot-sore soldiers and subordinate of-
ficers ride. It was a weary, doleful, mournful march. General
Ewell was the ranking officer in this group of those who were
captured. We had not gone very far before we were halted
by a squad of Grant's army, in which Ewell met some of his
West Point acquaintances of the Federal army. He seemed
bent on making himself popular with them. He told the of-
ficer he was talking with, that our troops had devastated Yankee
territory more than the Yankees had devastated ours. I said,
"General Ewell, you know that is not true. Will you tell me
what Yankee territory we devastated more than the Valley of
Virginia was devastated by the Federal forces?" He turned off
without a reply. The next squad we met General Ewell told
them that he admitted that our government had been cruel to
the Yankee prisoners. I told him that he knew that was not
true; that while Yankee prisoners had fared very badly at our
hands, they fared just as well as our own soldiers; that we
had called upon the Federal Government over and over again
to exchange them. The fact that they were prisoners on our
hands was due to the refusal of the Federal Government to
exchange prisoners. It was a part of Grant's policy to keep out
of the Confederate army every man that he could. I was very
126 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
indignant with General Ewell. He was thoroughly whipped
and seemed to be dreadfully demoralized.
While we were making our dreary march towards Peters-
burg, the melancholy news reached us early on the loth of
April that General Lee had surrendered on the 9th, at
It is impossible for me to describe my feelings. I rejoice that
I was not at Appomattox and did not see dear old General Lee
riding through the ranks of his soldiers after the surrender,
with tears streaming down his cheeks; it would almost have
There, upon that field at Appomattox, the Star of the Con-
federacy set forever.
General Pickett had lost cast entirely with General Lee. I
cannot tell exactly what the trouble was. It is reported that
he abused and criticized General Lee on the retreat for not
surrendering, and condemned him severely for continuing the
war. I cannot say that this is true, or whether General Lee
was visiting discipline upon Pickett for his loss of Five Forks
and Sailor's Creek ; but he unquestionably relieved Pickett from
duty with the Army of Northern Virginia, and ordered him to
report to President Davis wherever he could find him. Davis
at that time, with his cabinet, was on retreat through lower Vir-
ginia, or North Carolina.
I never heard of this dismissal of Pickett for twenty-five years
after the war, and when I did hear of it I did not believe it.
I mentioned the matter to General Fitz Lee last year  and
gave him the source of my information. He had never heard
of it, and said he did not believe it. I said, "General, you can
find out whether it is true or not, by writing to Walter Taylor,
General Lee's Adjutant-General, and tell him exactly what I
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 127
have told you, and ask him if it is true." General Lee told me
he did write the letter, and that Walter Taylor replied that
what I had told him was exactly true.* It is very curious that
Pickett should go down in history as the hero of Gettysburg,
and finally lose his reputation to such an extent as to be dis-
missed from the army.
Pickett was a gallant man. Up to the time he was married,
I had the utmost confidence in his gallantry, but I believe that
no man who married during the war was as good a soldier
after, as before marriage. It was a singular fact, because those
men who came into the war as married men were as good
soldiers as the single ones, but marriage during the war seemed
to demoralize them.
I first heard of this dismissal of Pickett from Colonel Mosby,
*Colonel Taylor, in his reply to General Lee's letter, stated that he wrote
the order a few days before the surrender dismissing General Pickett from
the Army of Northern Virginia and directing him to report to President
Davis. Colonel Taylor also said in his letter that General R. E. Lee signed
the order, but that in the confusion incident to the approaching surrender,
he (Colonel Taylor) could not say with certainty that the order was ever
delivered to General Pickett. General Fitz Lee brought Colonel Taylor's
letter to my house and showed it to my father and my wife. Subsequently
he brought it to my office and showed it to me.
Colonel Mosby, in a newspaper interview, gave an account of a visit of
General Pickett to General Lee on the 8th of March, 1870. Colonel Mosby
says on that date he unexpectedly met General Lee and his daughter, Miss
Agnes, at the Exchange & Ballard House, and he went to General Lee's
room and chatted with him for some time. After he left General Lee he
met General Pickett in the Hotel and told him that he was just from
General Lee's room. General Pickett said "if I would go with him, he
would call and pay his respects to General Lee, but that he did not want to
be alone with him." Colonel Mosby consented to go with General Pickett,
although he had just come from General Lee's room. Colonel Mosby
says the meeting between the two Generals "was cold and formal — both
were under constraint." These statements and the quotations are from a
letter of Colonel Mosby to me dated March 25th, 191 1.
128 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
who had just returned from Charlottesville to Warrenton. He
said Colonel Venable, one of the professors at the University
and who was on General Lee's staff, told him of it, and said
he saw the order of General Lee dismissing Pickett. The late
Norman Randolph, of Richmond, told me that he knew it to be a
fact ; and this was confirmed by Walter Taylor's letter to General
Fitz Lee. It seems to me that it is an indisputable fact; and
yet how few people know it at this day.
I went on with the other prisoners and reached Petersburg.
While there, sitting in the ambulance, a Federal officer rode
up, followed by a courier with a led horse. The officer rode
to the ambulance and asked if General Custis Lee was there.
I said yes, and pointed to him. The officer said, "General Lee,
I am directed to inform you that your mother is dying in Rich-
mond; I have brought you your parole and you are ordered to
mount this horse and go to her immediately." Custis Lee was
unselfish and generous-hearted. He said he could not leave his
fellow prisoners, but must share the hardships of their prison
life with them. We said to him at once, "General, don't hesitate
to leave us. Go to your ill mother." He finally mounted the
horse and went to his mother, saying that he would join us as
soon as his mother was better. It turned out that his mother
was not more indisposed than usual, and that it was a generous
device on the part of some of his old army friends and West
Point classmates to avoid sending him to prison.
I was sick with chronic diarrhea and suffering from fistula,
and also sick at heart over the failure of the dear lost cause.
We reached City Point and were put on board a vessel for
Washington. General Ewell had provided himself with five
or six hundred dollars in gold, and had it about him at the
time. He knew I was sick. I had to lie down on the floor
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 129
where the Yankee guard had spit their tobacco juice, and eat
the rations, sick as I was. General Eweli went to the table and
slept in a bed, and never offered to help me at all. This was
the more remarkable because he and I had known each other
almost from my boyhood. In the early part of the war he had
been kind to me. He was a splendid soldier until he lost his
leg, and married his wife. I don't think he was valuable after-
wards. He seemed to be possessed with the idea that the property
of his wife "Mrs. Brown," would be confiscated. It was very
We started for Washington. On the way up the river, a
stranger came to me and said, "I understand you are sick and
without money." I told him that unfortunately both were
true. He pulled out three ten dollar greenbacks, gave me one,
another sick man one, and kept one himself. This was Major
(I regret I have forgotten his name) of Missouri. He was a
Quartermaster in the Army. After the war was over I made
every effort to find out where he was, that I might return the
ten dollars. At the White Sulphur Springs on one occasion
I related the circumstances to Dr. Carter, of Clarke County,
and said I would give anything if I could find that man. He
said "He lived in my neighborhood, in Clarke County." He
had married at the Tuilleries, in Clarke, had settled in Clarke
County after the war and was dead. I gave Dr. Carter the ten
dollars and requested him to pay it over to the poorest member
of the family.
When we reached Washington, we were taken to the Provost-
Marshal's office. I asked permission to go out and get some
medicine. The Provost called one of his guard and told him to
go with me. We got the medicine and the guard wanted me
to go into every drinking establishment he could find. He
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
wanted to exhibit a Rebel Brigadier prisoner. I returned to
the office and found a very fine lunch set out for the prisoners.
Mrs. Bryant, the mother of Herbert Bryant of Alexandria, who
was on General Corse's staff, came in. She thought her son
was captured, and had brought him clothes and money. Herbert
was not captured. He had made his escape, and she divided
the clothes and money among his friends. I got, I think, five
dollars, and with that and the ten dollars above mentioned, I
felt I was beginning to get rich.
We left Washington for Fort Warren, Boston Harbor, that
night at dusk, and Lincoln was assassinated the same night at
half-past nine o'clock. The news met us as we were crossing
Jersey ferry. General B. F. Butler was reading a paper in
mourning. I asked what it meant, and was informed that
Lincoln had been assassinated the night before. The officer
who had charge of the prisoners — thirteen general officers of
the Confederate Army — was a first-rate man. He gave us a
fine breakfast in New York. We started for Boston. At every
depot an effort was made to raise a mob to hang us. One man
jumped on the train, and rode sixty miles, just to jump out at
every station and cry "Hang them." If it had not been for my
wife and son, I would not have cared very much if they had
hung me. When we were approaching Boston, the officer in
charge of us, feeling apprehensive of our safety, telegraphed
ahead to have hacks in readiness, and we were rushed into these
hacks and driven at full speed to the wharf, where we took a
boat and were landed at Fort Warren.
HE death of Lincoln was a further blow to the South.
He was essentially a vulgar-minded man, but a man of great
ability and great kindness of heart. If he had lived he would
have been able to control and would have controlled to some
extent the hostile sentiment of the North, and reconstruction
would have been comparatively easy. He was succeeded by
Andrew Johnson, the Vice-President, from Tennessee.
Johnson was suspected (improperly), of complicity in the
assassination of Lincoln. In order to show that he had no
sympathy with Lincoln's assassins, during the first years of his
administration, he did everything in his power (to use his own
words), "to make treason odious, and to punish traitors," and
intensified the Northern mind in its hatred of the South.
Booth, the assassin of Lincoln, was an ardent and fanatical
friend of the South. He had with great deliberation formed a
plan to abduct President Lincoln and deliver him into the
hands of President Davis. This plan was made abortive by the
surrender of General Lee, and then it was that he formed the
sudden resolve to assassinate him. He was pursued (with a
broken leg) across the river into Caroline County, Virginia,
and was shot and killed in a barn. Mrs. Surratt was charged
with complicity in the assassination. This was wholly unjust.
She had a hand in the plan to abduct him, but only to the
extent of allowing the conspirators to meet in her house. She
knew nothing of the plan to assassinate the President, but was
tried by a court-martial, and on the flimsiest sort of evidence
was condemned and executed, together with the male con-
spirators who had been captured. This execution of an innocent
132 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
woman will always be a blot upon the Government of the
I was in prison, sick, and had abundant time to look back
over the past four years. Just four years before I had gone
into the Confederate Army with the highest hopes of success.
We had wonderful success on the field of battle. We had
won the two battles at Manassas, Ball's Bluff, Mechanicsville,
Gaines' Mill, Frazier's Farm, the Wilderness, Chancellorsville,
Spottsylvania Courthouse, first and second Cold Harbor, the
fights below the Howlett House — down to the siege of Peters-
The battle of Gettysburg was a failure; the battle of Seven
Pines was hardly a success ; the battle of Sharpsburg was pretty
much of a drawn battle. Notwithstanding these brilliant suc-
cesses of the Army of Northern Virginia, the resources of the
South had given out. Our soldiers were bare-footed, almost
naked, and almost starved. General Grant when he found that
he could not meet Lee with success in the open field, deter-
mined upon the very best course to end the war. He was a man
without any brilliant military attainments, but essentially a
man of hard, common, practical sense. He saw that he could
lose ten men to Lee's one, and still succeed. His losses could
be supplied not only from the populous North, but from the
world at large. General Lee's army had exhausted the re-
sources (both in men and supplies) of the Confederacy. We
had been many times charged in northern papers with "robbing
the cradle and the grave" to fill our army.
General Grant, therefore, determined upon the tactics of
attrition to wear Lee out. It proved to be successful, and the
Star of the Confederate States went down at Appomattox.
General Lee and Jackson, as I have said, formed the best
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 133
combination of a great commander and his right-hand that
the world ever saw. He had very many other valuable officers
under him. Longstreet, who ranked by seniority General
Jackson, I must believe from the evidence, lost the battle of
Gettysburg and the independence of the Confederacy. Before
Gettysburg, and after, he rendered most valuable and brilliant
service in the Army of Northern Virginia.
Soon after the war Longstreet went into the Republican
party, and turned his back on all his old friends of the Con-
federacy. This has produced a great prejudice against him in
the South, and he will not be mourned as much as other
He was always kind to me. I was in his command through-
out the entire war. I never received a harsh word from him,
but very many acts of kindness. I shall strive, therefore, to
think of him with kindness. He died at the very last of the
General John B. Gordon, in my opinion, ranked in brilliant
service in the Infantry next to Jackson. He was one of the
most brilliant men in battle that General Lee had in his army.
He was always ready for a fight and always conducted it with
great ability, and most always with success. It is unquestion-
able, as I have said before, that if he had been allowed by
Ewell to carry on his attack on the first day at Getttysburg,
he would have driven the Federal Army from Cemetery Ridge
and Gettysburg would have been won.
General Ewell was a Lieutenant-General. He was a graduate
of West Point, and a native of Prince William County, Vir-
ginia. He rendered valuable service to the army up to and
including the second battle of Manassas, where he lost his leg.
He was nursed by Mrs. Brown, of Tennessee, who had been
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
his early love. They renewed their courtship and were married.
She was a woman of very large fortune.
I would like to speak of other officers in General Lee's army,
but it would consume too much space. But there never was
an army in the history of the world that was so well officered,
or composed of such gallant, splendid material in the ranks.
I felt very gloomy in prison. For some time I did not hear
from my wife. I believed she was in Lynchburg without a
dollar except Confederate money. I felt exceedingly anxious
to get out of prison and go to work to support my wife and
educate and raise my son. When the war began I collected all
the money I could that was due me, and invested it in Virginia
State Bonds, and gave them to my wife for safe-keeping. On
my last visit to her in Lynchburg the winter of 1864-65, I said
to her "if the worst came we had those Virginia Bonds," and
to my deep regret she said that she had traded them for Con-
federate Bonds. This was the last property we possessed: but
I knew she had done it for the best, and did not make any
comment upon it.
Major General John W. Turner, of the Federal Army, and
myself had been opposite to and fighting each other for months,
below the Howlett House. We knew each other, though we
had never met. He was the first Federal officer to go into
Lynchburg after the surrender of General Lee. As soon as he
heard that my wife and son were in the town and in very
destitute circumstances, he sent one of his staff officers to my
wife to tender to her General Turner's purse and his services.
I had then been captured and the only information my wife
had of me was a statement published in some newspaper that
I had been wounded, probably mortally, and captured. I was
ill, but had not been wounded. She was a thoroughly loyal
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 135
Confederate, as were almost all the women of the South, and
was at that time especially bitter to the Yankees, and sent
General Turner a curt refusal to accept his offer, and to others
said that she and her son would starve before she would accept
assistance from him. I was delighted at the spirit she showed,
but felt very grateful to General Turner for his magnanimity.
After years of inquiry, I found out where he was and wrote him
the nicest letter I could frame, to which he replied in very
I could not hear from my wife for some time after reaching
Fort Warren, nor did she hear from me. We wrote frequently,
but the Confederate mail routes had been discontinued and
those of the U. S. Government had not been established. My
wife had united herself to the Episcopal Church during the
war and was very much attached to her minister in Lynch-
burg, Mr. Kinkle. He was a most excellent man and an ardent
Confederate. He soon, however, introduced into his service
the prayer for the President of the United States. When this
prayer was used, my wife and son always rose from their knees —
they were not then and never were reconstructed.
The banks of Lynchburg on the approach of the Federal
Army, after the surrender of General Lee, loaned out their
gold to people of character without security, taking notes from
the borrowers. My wife through Mr. James H. Reid (our
faithful friend) obtained a loan of $50.00. On this she lived
until relief came.
As soon as it was practicable, my brother Silas went to Lynch-
burg and took my wife and son to the home of my sister, Mrs.
Elizabeth Morehead, in Culpeper County. She was the wife
of Lieutenant Morehead of the Confederate Cavalry, who com-
manded his company at the battle of Ball's Bluff. They re-
136 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
mained, with my sister and my mother and my single sister
Mary Brent, until I was released from prison.*
*Our trip from Lynchburg to Culpeper was quite remarkable. Our
party consisted of my Uncle Silas, my mother and myself, and two faithful
slaves, one with an infant in arms. We left Lynchburg in a train and went
as far as Tye River. The bridge over this stream had been destroyed. We
disembarked and went down a precipitous embankment and were ferried
across the river. There we found a hand car. There were two partitions
put across the middle of it, forming a stall. The passengers were put in
front of this stall, the baggage behind it. We had no idea what the stall
was for, but we soon discovered. The baggage and passengers having
been transferred across the stream, a mule was hitched to the car and we
were pulled as long as we were on an upgrade. When we reached a down-
grade we stopped and the mule was put into the stall in the car and we pro-
ceeded by gravity, making much better time than when the mule was
pulling us. We reached North Garden (I think it was) about night-fall,
and the railroad was in operation no further. My Uncle Silas arranged
for us to spend the night at a farm house and hired a farm wagon to take
us to Charlottesville, which we reached the next day, and, worn out with
our trip, went to a hotel to rest before resuming our journey. We had
hardly gotten ready to go to bed before Major George Jones, who was on
my father's staff, having learned we were there, came in to see us and in-
sisted we should go with him to his home and rest. This we did, and I
shall never forget my impression of the luxury of this home. Major Jones
was a hospitable and splendid man, and he and my father were devoted
to each other. In a day or two we resumed our journey. The bridge over
the Rivanna River was gone and Major Jones drove us across the river,
which was fordable, where we found a train upon which we embarked.
Its progress was very slow, and frequently it became necessary to stop the
train and dig the grass out of the tracks. I have forgotten how far we
went by train, but it stopped some time before we reached Culpeper Court
House, and we were compelled to take a hand car again. While we were
on the latter a terrific rain came up from which we had no protection and
we were all drenched, but we reached Culpeper that night. We were, I
think, the first after the war to attempt the trip north from Lynchburg,
and I feel that a brief account of it will give an idea of the conditions of the
time, and its hardships.
There was but one other party who left Lynchburg on this trip with us.
It was a family who had relatives in the north whom they were going to
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 137
I soon heard in prison that my splendid war horse "Morgan,"
had been saved, and was carried by Captain Fitzhugh of my
StafI, to my brother James, near the Warrenton Junction, in
Fauquier County. He was one of the finest horses I have ever
seen ; was well known in the army ; was stolen twice and recog-
nized by my friends, and brought back.
Our mess at Fort Warren consisted of seven: General Ewell;
General Kershaw; General Corse; General Barton; General
Wilson; General DuBose and myself. Six other prisoners
(among them General Cabell, of Arkansas, but a native of
Virginia) were there, and had access to our room. One day
I was asleep on my bed in my room, when I was aroused by
an unusual commotion, and found that the twelve Confederate
officers were holding a meeting. I inquired what it meant and
was surprised and indignant to learn that it was a meeting called
by General Ewell to declare by resolution that they had no
complicity in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and deplored
the act. I was very much excited about it, and opposed to it
with all my might. I asked them if they thought it becoming
for thirteen gentlemen who were thought worthy to wear the
stars of general officers of the Confederate Army to declare
to the world that they were not assassins. By great exertions,
and the efforts of several who came to my aid, the resolution
was defeated. I asked General Ewell where the leg he lost at
second Manassas was buried; that I wished to pay honor to
see. I either never knew or had forgotten their names. When I was at
the University of Virginia a number of us had gathered in CharUe Slaugh-
ter's room, and for some reason I gave an account of this trip. In the
midst of my account CharHe Slaughter jumped up and exclaimed that his
father and mother and himself, and probably others, constituted the other
party on this trip, and that he had frequently wondered who his traveling
138 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
that leg, for I had none to pay to the rest of his body. He
repUed that he didn't know where it was.
(The gallant General John B. Gordon died suddenly and
unexpectedly the first of the year 1904. He was to be buried
in Atlanta this very day (January 13, 1904). The whole South-
land is in grief over his death. I feel deeply distressed. I loved
John Gordon, and the people all loved him. He was one of
the most magnetic men I ever met. He was twice elected
Governor of Georgia, and twice elected to the Senate of the
United States. I served with him a portion of his last term.
He was a fine orator, a good friend, a true patriot, and a good
man in every respect.)
To resume my narrative, I begun to improve at Fort Warren.
The change of climate and of diet acted very beneficially upon
my constitution. My chronic diarrhea was getting well and
I begun to increase in weight. Two families in Boston were
exceedingly kind to us — one of them (Clifford by name) sent
us something to eat two or three times a week. I regret I have
forgotten Mr. Clifford's first name. He had a daughter who
frequently visited in Richmond before the war. The whole
family earnestly sympathized with the South and were just as
kind to us as it was possible to be. The other family was that
of Dr. Salter, His wife was a sister of Colonel Joseph C. Ives,
who was on Mr. Davis' Staff. Soon after getting into com-
munication with Clifford, we received mysteriously a letter with
a fictitious signature. It expressed the kindest feelings to us.
We called a council to prepare a reply and to decide how it
should be addressed. This reply somehow reached the Salters
and they were very kind to us during our imprisonment. After
being in Fort Warren for sometime, we received a letter from
a little daughter of the Salter family, in which she addressed
us as her "dear Rebel friends," and said, "I am going down
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 139
the Bay on Thursday, and shall look out for my Rebel friends
at Fort Warren and wave my handkerchief to them; and oh,
if I could only take you all aboard and carry you with me to
liberty, how happy I would be." When Thursday came we
spent the day upon the ramparts watching every vessel that
passed down the harbor. Toward the close of the afternoon,
we spied a vessel coming, and when opposite to us we saw
the little handkerchief fluttering in the hands of the dear little
child. We gave her as fine a "Rebel yell" as ever was heard.
Each one of us took a copy of the letter.
I used to lie on my bed at Fort Warren and study law with-
out any books. It was very curious to note how my professional
knowledge came back to me. I think when I left the prison
I was a better lawyer than when the war began.
Fort Warren was commanded by a Colonel Wilson (a North
Carolinian) of the old army, who declined to resign and go to
his State when she seceded. We never recognized him, but
were on terms of very great kindness with the other officers
of the Fort. The soldiers were all very kind to us. The first
information we had of our release was when we heard a great
noise in the soldiers' room (which was just above our case-
mate), when one of them exclaimed "Bully, Boys! The Rebel
Generals are released."
The next morning we got a letter from Mr. Clifford, our Bos-
ton friend, in which he said that if our mess, consisting of the
seven above-named, did not come to his house when we were
released, he would take it almost as an insult. We accepted the
invitation. When we reached the wharf to take the boat for
Boston, we shook hands with everybody until we came to the
Commander, Colonel Wilson, and skipped him. We were not
willing to recognize a man who fought against his own State.
We got to Mr. Clifford's about night, and were entertained in
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
the most hospitable manner. The seven Rebel Generals who
went there occupied the whole house, and Cliiiford and his
family went to a neighbor's to sleep. Several gentlemen who
were sympathizers with the South, came in to see us. One in
particular was very enthusiastic over us. He came in two or
three times, and each time would shake hands all around, with
both hands, and say "You don't look like bad men. I know
you ain't bad men, and I wish to God you had succeeded, and
if I could see General Lee I would be willing to lie down and
die." This was strange language to hear in Boston.
The next morning our friend Cliflford had two nice hacks at
the door, and the seven released prisoners and Mr. Clifford
filled them. He took us all around Boston and its suburbs.
We went to the Elm Tree where Washington assumed com-
mand of the Continental Army. We went to Mt. Auburn,
one of the handsomest cemeteries in the United States. We
stopped to see our friends, the Salters. While there wine and
cake were handed around, and a very handsome young lady —
Miss Salter — who afterwards married the younger brother of
Aleck Stevens, our Vice-President, asked me if I would drink
a toast with her. I said, "Certainly." I was pretty thirsty and
was willing to drink a toast with almost anybody — especially
with this handsome young lady. She said, "Here's to Cousin
Sally Ann." I said, "My dear Miss, I don't know your Cousin
Sally Ann, but if she is a cousin of yours, here's to her." She
laughed heartily and said, "You don't know Cousin Sally Ann ?"
I said, "No indeed." She laughed again and then said, "Don't
you know 'C. S. A.' ?" The whole thing dawned on me at once.
"C. S. A." was the Confederate States Army. It was the plan
adopted by our sympathizers in the North of drinking with
safety to the Confederate States Army, and talking about the
achievements of the Confederate States Army as Cousin Sally
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 141
Ann. We went into Mrs. Salter's chamber by invitation, and
the walls were decorated with the photographs of Confederate
Generals. This seemed strange in Boston. We returned and
had a fine dinner at Mr. Clifford's, and then started for home,
dear old Virginia for me!
I had transportation to Culpeper Courthouse, near which
point my wife and son were staying. I shall never forget my
feelings when I crossed the Long Bridge at Washington and
breathed once more the air of my dear old native State. My
horse "Morgan" was at my brother James' near the Warrenton
Junction. I left the train at that point, went to my brother's
and found that Morgan was barefooted. I had to wait until he
was shod, and then started for my wife and son, against the
earnest entreaty of my dear brother and his affectionate wife,
who wanted me to spend the night there. The whole country
was open; fences all gone, and when I approached the town
of Warrenton, apprehending that I should be met by my friends
and acquaintances there and prevented from reaching my wife
that evening, I cut across the country and struck the Culpeper
Road about half a mile beyond the town. I caught up with old
Mr. Phil Johnson going to his home, which is now occupied
by John Hooe. He said he believed that God, in His mysterious
providence, would yet bring about in some way the independ-
ence of the Confederate States. I thought it was the sublimest
exhibition of faith that I had ever known.
I pushed on to Culpeper. My brother-in-law. Lieutenant
Morehead, lived in a place that was difficult to find even in the
daytime, and still more so in the night, which had overtaken
me. I met an acquaintance and obtained the best information
I could as to the road; but soon got lost. I wandered into his
farm and shouted as loud as I could to attract the attention of
himself and family. A servant came out with a lighted lantern,
142 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
which was a guide to me in my efforts to reach the house.
They concluded, however, that it was some drunken man who
had lost his way, and that the light would bring him to the
house. They put the lantern out. After a long struggle, I
reached the house and was once more in the arms of my dear
wife and my dear son, my dear mother, and my two dear sisters.
T is difficult to conceive the pleasure of meeting them
after so long and so sad a separation. I reached them the last
of July. The first court in Prince William — the county of my
residence prior to the war — was held on the first Monday in
August. I attended it. My friends all rallied around me with
great kindness. I met a man from Washington, who had some
litigation there and retained me. He gave me a twenty dollar
gold piece as retainer. It looked to me as big as a cart wheel,
and I carried it back to my wife and told her to put it away
and save it, if possible, for a rainy day, if one should come.
After a week or ten days I hired a wagon, and Lucy and Eppa,
the two servant girls (who belonged to us and who had been
in Lynchburg during the war) and myself, started up to Clarke
County to visit my wife's brother, James V. Weir. I rode
Morgan. I told these two girls (one of whom I bought to save
her from going to the traders and being separated from her
family) that they were free, and when I got to Clarke, I paid
their stage and car fare to Alexandria, where their parents had
gone during the war.
While there, I went to the first court in Loudoun County,
and determined that that should be one of the counties in which
I would practice. As six of my companies of the old 8th
Regiment were Loudoun men, and the whole county looked
on me with kindness during the war, I felt sure that I would
get a good practice in Loudoun. I determined that I would
locate at Warrenton. I went there in September and opened
an office. From that time on, I attended the courts of Fauquier,
Prince William and Loudoun with great regularity. My prac-
144 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
tice began to increase, and I got money enough for my wife
and son and myself to live on. Twice when I was going to
court I had to borrow this twenty-dollar gold piece, but was
fortunate each time and returned it to my wife.
Toward the close of the year, I brought my wife and son to
Warrenton. I was not able to go to housekeeping, but went
to room-keeping, which was then quite fashionable with the
poor Confederates. This was late in the year 1865 — I rented
four rooms from Mrs. Day, on Culpeper Street. My brother
Silas (always affectionate and kind to me, as well as his dear
wife Mag), had saved some tobacco which he bought during
the war, and had sold it after the war for a very large price.
I borrowed a thousand dollars from him to set up our room-
keeping. We furnished our rooms comfortably. We lived
there in great happiness until August, 1867.
In 1866, a gentleman from Bedford County, who had made
a fortune during the war, came to Warrenton and was very
much attracted by my horse "Morgan." He offered me $500
in greenbacks for him. It was a great temptation. I thought
if I could get $500 in greenbacks my fortune was made; but I
hated to part from Morgan. I told him I would give him an
answer in an hour. I went to our rooms, called a council of
war consisting of my wife, my son and myself. I laid the matter
before them, and we voted unanimously to stand by old "Mor-
gan" if we starved. I was always glad I did not sell him.
On my next visit to Loudoun, I found that a very rich old
man had brought two suits for large amounts, and to save a
fee had put them in the hands of a Yankee lawyer, at $2.50
apiece. He was met by a plea of usury, which at that time
forfeited the principal as well as the interest on a debt, and
Randolph Tucker, who had located at Middleburg, and who
was one of the eminent lawyers of the State, and Mathew
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 145
Harrison, were employed by the defendants to make good this
plea of usury. The plaintiff was in great distress. He could
not trust the trial of the cases to this Yankee lawyer, and at
last was persuaded to employ me. I won the first case without
much trouble. The second case was one of the hardest fights I
ever had at the bar. Mr. Tucker and I stood up and fought
each other over every inch of the ground. I finally secured a
verdict. Mr. Tucker moved for a new trial. I resisted it, and
won again. I then carried my client down to a room he
selected, to receive my pay. My fee was a good retainer, and
a large contingent one, and he paid me every dollar. After
I started home Mr. Tucker renewed his motion for a new trial,
and in my absence it was granted. The second trial was a harder
fight than the first, but I won again.* This established me as a
lawyer in Loudoun County, and no non-resident ever got a
finer practice than I had in Loudoun.
We had a fine bar at Warrenton. General William H. Payne
was a brilliant lawyer, and so was James V. Brooke; Murray
Forbes; Howard Shackelford and Taylor Scott, besides others
of less note.
From 1865 to 1872 I had all the business I could attend to.
My income was a very fine one; and in 1867 1 purchased a house
*Mr. Tucker and my father were devoted friends, and after this case,
they were on the opposite side of every important case in the county. The
simplicity of the Ufe at that time is well illustrated by their manner of
living. Neither of them had an office in Leesburg. When attending court
they occupied the same room in a boarding-house. Once when I as a boy,
rode on horseback from Warrenton to Leesburg with Father, I was put
in the same room with these distinguished gentlemen. When a client de-
sired to confer with either, the other one was asked to leave the room.
Mr. Tucker was subsequently made professor of law at Washington and
Lee, and was then elected to Congress, and he and my father served to-
gether, and always lived at the same boarding house in Washington, and
their friendship grew and strengthened.
146 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
from William H. Gaines, and moved into it. My wife's mother
and her daughters, who had lived with me since our marriage
(except during the war), returned to us. My son went to school
in Warrenton for several years. Then I sent him to "Bellevue,"
the Holcombe School, in Bedford County, Va., to be prepared
for the University of Virginia. This school was conducted by
Professor James P. Holcombe, formerly a professor of law
at the University of Virginia, who had been a very prominent
member of the Secession Convention. My plan was to give
Eppa a first-class education, and to make him an A. M. of the
University. I did not believe I could accumulate anything for
him, and I thought his A. M. would be equal to a fortune of
twenty thousand dollars. Before going to Holcombe's school,
I told him if he would abstain from tobacco, whiskey and cards
until he was 21, I would give him the handsomest watch and
chain I could procure. He said he would not make a bargain,
but he would try to do as I asked him, and if he did he would
get the watch. He lived up to it for a year or two. I gave him
the watch — a very handsome one — which he wears now. He
was then at the University of Virginia. The next vacation,
when he came home, he gave the watch up to his mother. I
asked him what it meant, and found that he had been smoking.
I was very much annoyed, but concluded that it was best if I
could get him through the University without gambling and
drinking. I took smoking out of the arrangement and returned
him the watch. He lived up to his promise and after he left
the University, I gave him the chain which he now wears.
In the beginning of the year 1866, my dear old mother died.
She was 72 years of age ; had a hard life in rearing nine children,
and was one of the best mothers that ever lived. She had made
up her mind that when I was settled she would spend the
remainder of her days with me, and I would then have with
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 147
me my mother and my wife's mother — two of the nicest and
dearest old ladies I ever met. But it was not to be.
In 1868 or '69, my wife's mother died. She was older than
my mother; was very devoted to me, and died in my arms.
When I first came home from prison, I and others similarly
situated, were not allowed to vote. We had no voice in the
government. The darkeys were all free, but when I got home
from prison, they were just as polite, and just as well behaved
as when they were slaves. I have often said that there never
was a race of people that behaved as well as the slaves did during
that war. They knew as well as we did that if the Federal
Government succeeded, they would be free. If we succeeded,
they would be slaves. We had to leave our wives and daughters
and sisters and mothers in the protection of these slaves, and
there is not an instance on record where this trust was betrayed
by violence. It is a wonderful record for the race. They were
free and getting wages, but there was no other difference.
Many of them in and around Warrenton called me, as they
always did, "Marse Eppa." But soon after the Freedmen's
Bureau sent one of its officers to Warrenton (as they did all
through the South). He put enmity between the races. He
vacated all the contracts of labor between the farmers and the
colored people, and made them all come to Warrenton — (some
of them thirty miles distant) — and enter into a contract, which
he signed as witness; and very soon, under the influence of this
man, there was political enmity between us and our former
We went through a terrible period of reconstruction. We
were all disfranchised by the Federal Government, and Vir-
ginia was put into a military district called "Military District
No. I." Fortunately for us, the commanders of this district
were good men — not disposed to oppress us — and we had for
148 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
several years a fairly good military government in Virginia.
Our judges were military appointees; our sheriffs and all the
oflEcers in this State ovi^ed their appointment to the Military
Governor of Virginia.
Our military judge w^as Lysander Hill. We had great ap-
prehensions of him as our circuit judge when he took the place
of Judge Henry W. Thomas, of Fairfax, but Hill turned out
to be a first rate man and a fine judge. He was the best listener
I ever addressed on the bench. His decisions were able and
generally satisfactory. He certainly was not influenced in the
slightest degree by politics on the bench. He held his first court
in Warrenton, and the first thing that came up before him was
a motion to remove the military sheriff, who was a bad man
in every respect, and had given a straw bond as sheriff. He
heard the case like a good judge and did not hesitate five minutes
to remove him.
This Lysander Hill became a prominent lawyer in Wash-
ington after he left the bench of our circuit. He determined
after a long practice in Washington to remove to Chicago.
Before he left Washington, he was offered a brilliant partner-
ship in Cincinnati, the income of which was guaranteed to
him to be $60,000 a year, the firm consisting of three members.
Hill declined the offer and came to me, and said, "I will put
you in that firm if you will accept the place." I was not willing
to leave Virginia, and declined the offer.
We got along fairly well under Hill as our Judge, and Gen-
eral Schofield as our Military Governor. Schofield was really
a good man. He tried in every way to mitigate the hardships
of our situation, and gave us the best government that was
possible under the circumstances. He afterwards became
Lieutenant-General of the United States Army, and it gave me
infinite pleasure as Senator from Virginia to vote for the con-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 149
iirmation of his appointment, and to speak in his praise as our
Governor. I saw a good deal of him in Washington, and very
often called him "Governor Schofield," which pleased him
Our chief trouble after the war was the 14th and 15th Amend-
ments to the Constitution of the United States, which had been
proposed, but not quite enough States had ratified them to
make them a part of the Constitution. These amendments gave
the colored people, our former slaves, the right to vote. We
were forced to accept and ratify these amendments in order to
get rid of the military government, and the former slaves of the
seceding states all became voters.
We had to call a Constitutional Convention in order to adopt
these amendments. This convention was composed largely of
colored men, and was presided over by John C. Underwood,
one of the meanest "scalawags" of that, or any age. The con-
stitution, which was adopted by the convention, and sent out
to the people for ratification, was dreadful. It would have been
difficult for us to live under it, but through the action of General
*The rules of the Senate when a Senator moved to go into Executive
Session forbade the Senator to state for what purpose the Executive Session
was desired. My father has told me that when General Schofield's nomi-
nation was sent to the Senate, he immediately arose and said, "I desire par-
ticularly to have an executive session this evening for the purpose of con-
firming the nomination of General Schofield. He was commander of
Military District No. i, which was that in effect he was governor of Vir-
ginia and he has left behind him none but friends in my State. I desire
to show my appreciation of the promotion to the high grade to which he
has been nominated by confirming him at the very first moment we can."
Cong. Rec. Vol. XXVII pt. Ill p. 1898. The Senate did go into Executive
Session and General Schofield was immediately confirmed as Lieutenant-
General. My father received a splendid letter from him in which he
expressed his appreciation of his action and said that he had been fre-
quently told that the Virginians thought he had been fair and just to
them, but that this was the first official recognition of it.
150 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Grant, who was then President of the United States, we were
allowed to vote out from this constitution some of its worst
features, and adopted the rest, and lived under it until the last
Constitution, which was adopted in 1902. Under this Under-
wood constitution and laws of Congress, all of the white people
of Virginia, and of the South generally, were disfranchised,
who had any connection with the Confederacy, and who filled
an office before the war which required them to take an oath
to support the Constitution of the United States ; and these par-
ties, under this disability, were never allowed to vote or hold
office until their disabilities were removed by a law of Congress.
Notwithstanding the terrible condition of the country during
this period of reconstruction, the business of the country went
on. My practice was very large. I had a fine practice in Fau-
quier where I lived; in Prince William, where I lived before
the war, and in Loudoun County, from which came six of the
ten companies of my dear 8th Regiment. My practice in the
three counties was very remunerative. I had purchased a resi-
dence in Warrenton, on Rappahannock Street, and paid for it.
It was a very comfortable home. I had purchased eight or ten
acres of land just outside of the town, for a pasturage for my
horse and cow. I was doing very well indeed, but unfortunately
I went into politics.*
*While my father was attending Loudoun Court and without his
knowledge and consent, he was nominated for the State Senate to repre-
sent Fauquier and Rappahannock Counties. He was, of course, still under
disability, and knew that if elected he could not take his seat; but he ac-
cepted the nomination and made the canvas. I do not know the result of
the election, but I am sure a very large majority of the votes were cast for
him; although it was known he could not take his seat if elected. I do not
know what year this was.
,Y friends wanted me to run for Congress, and I was
not unwilling. The district at that time was composed of
Alexandria City and County, Fairfax, Loudoun, Fauquier,
Culpeper, Orange, Rappahannock, Madison and three Valley
counties, Clarke, Warren and Frederick. I was still under dis-
ability and could not take my seat in Congress unless the dis-
ability was removed, but I believed it soon would be and I
became a candidate for Congress.
Opposed to me for the nomination was Samuel J. C. Moore,
of Clarke County; James Barbour, of Culpeper; General (after-
wards Governor) Kemper, of Madison, and James G. Field,
also of Culpeper. There was a combination between Barbour,
Kemper and Field to pool their strength against me, and to
put up first Barbour, then Field and then Kemper. The rule
in the district was that the successful nominee of the Democratic
Party had to receive two-thirds of the votes of the nominating
convention. When this convention assembled, I was the lead-
ing candidate from the start, but did not for sometime command
two-thirds. Barbour was put up, and broke down. Field was
put up and broke down. There was a very unpleasant feeling
engendered between those three men. Each one believed that
the others did not behave generously and fairly toward him.
Owing to this unpleasant state of affairs, when Field broke
down, Kemper was not put up, and I had no other competitor
then but Mr. Moore, of Clarke, and after a few more ballots
I obtained two-thirds of the convention over him and was
I was opposed by a Republican and northern man who had
152 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
settled in Fairfax County at "Gunston," George Mason's estate.
I was elected over him by a vote of 11,782 to 9,178. My
friends vi^ould not allow me to meet him in discussion, as they
did not think it was becoming to enter into a discussion with
a northern man, who aspired to represent our people in Con-
gress. He turned out afterwards to be a very good man indeed;
assimilated himself to our people and our customs, and finally
joined the Democratic Party. His name is E. Daniels.
I was elected in November, 1872. My term commenced on
the 4th of March, 1873, and I took my seat in the House of
Representatives on the ist Monday in December, 1873.
The House of Representatives in that Congress was nearly
or quite two-thirds Republican. James G. Blaine, of Maine,
was elected Speaker. He gave me a position on the Committee
on Military Affairs, and was exceedingly nice and kind to me
during the whole of that Congress.
Just before the second session of that Congress began, it be-
came apparent that the Republican majority in the House would
attempt to pass a "Force Bill," and accordingly one was in-
troduced when the second session assembled on the first Mon-
day in December, 1874.* This was the short session, terminat-
ing by law on the 4th of March, 1875. It was very apparent
that this effort of the Republicans, if successful, would result
in the ruin of the South. It would have held us down under
negro rule as long as that law existed. It was, therefore, of the
utmost importance, to defeat it, and when it came up in the
House rather late in the session, the Democratic north and south
united to filibuster against that bill. We had enough Demo-
cratic members to force a roll call, and by dilatory motions, we
*This Bill provided for the suspension of the writ of habeas cofpus in
certain Southern States. It will be found in full in the Congressional
Record Feb. 24, 1875, p. 1748.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 153
hoped to defeat the passage of this bill, or else postpone its
passage so long that it would be impossible to get it through
Samuel J. Randall, from the City of Philadelphia, was the
leading member of the Democratic minority. He was a man
of fine intellect; he had been in Congress ever since the war,
and was thoroughly up in parliamentary tactics. At the preced-
ing session of the Congress Mr. Randall was very dissipated —
but when the second session met he had reformed and did not
touch a drop, and there never was a minority led with more
skill than the minority he led in that fight against the Force
Bill. By dilatory motions, we fought off the final vote on the
bill for a long period, but we had very few more votes than
enough to demand the calling of the ayes and noes. It was,
therefore, important that all the Democrats should be in place.
We sat up two nights and two days without adjourning, the
Republican majority trying to wear out the Democratic
minority. Toward the last part of this period, it was arranged
among the Democrats that a certain number could go to their
homes in the city and get some sleep. The second night it was
my time to go. My wife and I lived at the National Hotel.
I went down to get this nap of sleep. I fixed up a clean shirt
ready to put on at a moment's notice and went to bed. I had
not gotten to sleep before a messenger from the House came
in great haste to inform me that my presence was essential at
the House. I partially dressed, in a great hurry, and went down
the Avenue toward the Capitol Building completing my toilet
as I ran, and reached the House in time.
We were advised by our friends in the Senate that if we
would keep this bill in the House up to a certain day, that they
could filibuster against it successfully till the session terminated
on the 4th of March. By the rules of the Senate there was no
154 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
limit to the filibuster except the ability of the minority to hold
out in speaking. When we had accomplished our purpose and
sufficiently delayed this bill in the House, we allowed it to pass,
the 4th of March being near at hand. The Republicans never
attempted to take it up in the Senate.
A Democratic wave swept over the country in 1874, and sent
to the House of Representatives quite a large majority of
Democrats. The House, which in the previous Congress was
nearly two-thirds Republican, was very largely Democratic in
the 44th Congress. A caucus was held of the Democrats of
the House, and Mr. Kerr, of Indiana, was nominated for
Speaker. I preferred Mr. Kerr to Mr. Randall, who was his
competitor, but did not feel like I could vote against the man
who had led us so persistently and ably in the filibuster against
the Force Bill, and I voted for Mr. Randall in the caucus. Not-
withstanding my vote for Randall in the caucus, Mr. Kerr was
very generous and kind to me. He made me Chairman of the
Military Pension Committee; second on the Judiciary Com-
mittee, and third on the Committee to revise the laws in regard
to the election of President and Vice-President of the United
States. I was very much pleased with my assignments.
In the 43rd Congress Virginia had but one other Democratic
Representative. In the 44th Congress we had from Virginia
John Randolph Tucker; John Goode; George C. Cabell;
General Terry; Gilbert C. Walker; Beverley D. Douglas; John
T. Harris, and myself — I think the best delegation that Virginia
ever had in the House of Representatives.
It soon became apparent that the Democrats had a big job
before them in investigating the frauds and corruption of the
Republicans in and out of Congress. It was not long after the
session opened when I was appointed Chairman of a sub-com-
mittee of the Judiciary Committee, to investigate Mr. James G.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 155
Blaine, the Speaker of the last Congress and several preceding
ones. My relations with Blaine had been very good. He had
in the County of Loudoun probably fifty relations. His grand-
mother, who was a Miss Gillespie, was a Loudoun lady, and
I recollected (and so did most of the Democrats), gratefully,
the rulings of Mr. Blaine while Speaker of the last Congress,
by which we were enabled to filibuster successfully against the
Force Bill. He lost cast with his party, and when he made his
farewell speech to the 43rd Congress, he was more applauded
by the Democratic side than the Republican, and I, with most
of the Democrats, bade him a very cordial farewell. It was
averred that he had been, while Speaker of the House of Rep-
resentatives (but further back than the preceding session)
guilty of corruption in getting some railroad bill through. A
resolution to investigate him was offered and passed in the
House, and referred to the Judiciary Committee, of which I
was a member. Proctor Knott, of Kentucky, was Chairman
of that Committee. He appointed a sub-committee consisting
of myself as Chairman, Mr. Thomas S. Ashe, a North Carolina
Democrat, and Judge William Lawrence, an Ohio Republican,
to conduct this investigation.
Before the sub-committee met, Mr. Blaine took me into his
committee room to talk with me about the investigation. He
said, "I presume the Democrats on the sub-committee have no
feeling against me?" I made no reply. He went on, and
afterwards again said, "I presume the Democrats on that sub-
committee have no feeling against me?" I said, "Mr. Blaine,
you have said that twice. I did not reply to it when you first
said it, but I cannot let your second remark pass without a reply."
I continued, "When I came to the 43rd Congress you were
Speaker. You were very nice and kind to me. I appreciated it
very highly. I recollect very distinctly your fair rulings in the
156 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Chair enabled us to defeat the Force Bill. You know, as well
as I do, that when the Congress adjourned the Democrats took
leave of you with more cordiality and kindness than the Repub-
licans." He said, "I know all that, and it was very gratifying
to me." I said, "You know, Mr. Blaine, when you returned to
the 44th Congress, when the House was Democratic, the
Democrats met you with great cordiality, and among the most
cordial greetings you received mine was the most cordial." He
said, "I recollect it with great pleasure, sir." "But," I said, "Mr.
Blaine, this session of Congress had scarcely opened when you
made the most virulent, violent and uncalled for speech on the
Disability Bill that I have heard from anybody. Your attack
on JeflF. Davis was virulent. It raked up all the trouble between
the North and South, which we wanted to see pacified. You
could not expect me to feel towards you after that speech as I
did before it was delivered." Mr. Blaine said, "The Democrats
ought not to take exceptions to that speech of mine. By my
rulings in the last Congress, which enabled you all to defeat the
Force Bill, I lost cast with my party. I had to make that speech
in order to regain it." I said, "That might be good politics,
Mr. Blaine, but it was not statesmanship. At any rate, it was
striking us in a vital point, and I could not tell you that I had
no feeling against you ; but I beg to assure you that the investiga-
tion before the sub-committee of which I am chairman, shall
be as fair a one as has ever been given to a man in Congress."
We parted, and the investigation began.
Mr. Blaine had devoted friends. He was probably the most
brilliant man I ever met in public life — a splendid presiding
officer, a very fine debater, and exceedingly magnetic. His
colleague, Mr. Fry, from Maine, and his friend, William E.
Chandler, from New Hampshire, and others, attended the
meetings of the sub-committee every day, and were his close
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 157
friends and advisers. The investigation went quietly along until
James Mulligan (I think of New Jersey) was put upon the
stand. I had never seen Mulligan before. I had no idea what
he would testify to, and was conducting him along very quietly
and getting out of him everything that I could draw from him,
when he said: "Mr. Chairman, I have got some letters that I
desire to put in evidence before this Committee." Immediately
Mr. Blaine whispered to Mr. Lawrence, the Republican member
of the sub-committee, "Move an adjournment." I heard him
say it. Lawrence moved the adjournment, and the Committee
adjourned to meet the next morning at 10 o'clock.
The next morning at 10 o'clock the Committee met; Mr.
Blaine and his friends were present, and James Mulligan took
his position on the witness stand. I said, "Mr. Mulligan, proceed
with your narrative." He replied, "Mr. Chairman, before I
commence my narrative I have got a personal explanation to
make." I said, "Proceed with it." He said, "When the Com-
mittee adjourned yesterday, I went down to my hotel — the
Riggs House — and very soon after getting there received a letter
from Mr. Blaine, asking me to come to his house. I replied
declining to go. I got a second letter urging me to come to his
house. I still declined. In a short time Mr. Blaine came to the
Riggs House and told me he wanted to see me in my room.
We went to my room and Mr. Blaine said, "James, I want those
letters you referred to today on the stand." I said, "Mr. Blaine,
I shall not give them up; I am going to file them with my
evidence before that sub-committee." Mulligan said Mr. Blaine
begged and entreated, and he still refused. Blaine got on his
knees, shed tears and said, "James, if you don't give me those
papers I'm a ruined man, and not only am I ruined, but my
wife and children will be disgraced." Mulligan said that he
told Blaine he must refuse to surrender the letters. After much
further entreaty, Mr. Blaine said, "James, let me see those
158 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
letters. I want to look over them, and I pledge you my word
of honor I will return them to you." "Under that pledge,"
said Mulligan, "I gave the letters to Mr. Blaine. He read them,
and returned them to me." "He then said, ']2Lmcs, let me look
at those letters again a few minutes.' Supposing he was taking
them under the same pledge to return them to me I handed them
to him. As soon as he got them in his hands he put them in
his pocket and said, 'Now they are mine. I don't mean to
return them,' and he went off with them."
I never was so shocked and surprised in my life. I could not
believe that James Mulligan was telling the truth. I waited
impatiently to hear Mr. Blaine pronounce it a lie, but there he
sat, and did not open his lips. Amid the dead silence that
ensued, Mr. Blaine asked through his political friend, Mr.
Lawrence, that the Committee adjourn. The Committee did
adjourn but Blaine never returned the letters. He tried his best
to save himself before the House by ruining me. He charged
me with conducting a most unfair investigation, with coaching
this witness, and doing a great many things which a fair-minded
chairman of a committee ought not to do. Mr. William E.
Chandler, his poHtical friend whom I alluded to above, said,
and maintained (I have heard him say it a dozen times, and
he would say it again today, if asked) that I was the fairest
chairman of a committee he had ever seen. Mr. Blaine attacked
me most violently upon the floor of the House. I replied, stat-
ing all the facts as I have stated them above, and said, "Now,
Mr. Speaker, this unworthy conduct of Mr. Blaine affects this
House. I am only the organ of the House, as the Chairman
of one of its committees" — and I made what was considered
by my friends not only a good defense of myself, but a very
thorough castigation of Blaine.*
*A substantially similar account is given in James Ford Rhodes' History
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 159
I was followed by Proctor Knott in a fairly good speech and
his speech and mine were published in pamphlet form and cir-
culated as a campaign document, in the next presidential
It came very near causing a personal difficulty between Mr.
William P. Fry, Mr. Blaine's personal friend and political
admirer from the State of Maine, and myself. Fry was a mem-
ber of the Judiciary Committee. He and I had become very
good friends. He was a manly man, and did not bear any
resentment towards Southern people who participated in the
Confederate war. Proctor Knott and Fry got into a violent
altercation on the floor of the House. They had also been warm
friends. In the course of this debate Fry said, "There is not a
member of that sub-committee that has a shadow of a shade
of doubt as to Blaine's innocence." He was speaking in the time
of his colleague, Mr. Hale, of Maine, who had yielded the floor
of the United States, Volume VII, pages 200-206, sustained by citations to
records of Congress.
Of this speech, Mr. John Goode says in his book "Recollection of a Life-
time," at page 1 1 1, the following:
"Mr. Blaine was the recognized leader on the Republican side, and was
undoubtedly a man of exceptional talent and parliamentary skill. He was
remarkably quick and alert, and excelled all the men I have ever heard in
what is known as a running debate. While he was under investigation by
the Judiciary Committee of the House he exhibited extraordinary audac-
ity, and a stranger sitting in the galleries and observing his bearing would
have supposed that the committee were the defendants and he was the
prosecutor. With head aloft, eyes aflame and nostrils dilated, he left his
seat on the Republican side, charged down the aisle, shook his fist at the
Democratic side, and exclaimed, in stentorian terms, 'Sixty odd of you sit
there by the grace and clemency of this great Government, and if you had
your deserts you would all be hung as high as Haman!' It is proper to say
that this assault was successfully met by Eppa Hunton of Virginia, who
added very materially to his well-earned reputation as a strong, ready, and
i6o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
to him. When Fry made this statement, I immediately arose
and said, "Mr. Speaker, the gentleman from Maine has said
that there was not a member of that sub-committee who had the
shadow of a shade of doubt as to Mr. Blaine's innocence" — Mr.
Fry jumped up and said, "Mr. Speaker, I meant 'any honest
member' of that committee."
I was very much surprised at what was a direct intimation
on the part of Fry that I was not an honest member. He
thought I was going to say that Blaine was guilty, in my opinion.
I asked Mr. Fry if he meant to intimate by that remark, that
I was not an honest man. He did not reply. I repeated the
question, and he still did not reply. I then started a sentence
of denunciation, saying "Then I pronounce — " when Hale, in
whose time I was speaking, seeing that trouble was ahead, im-
mediately resumed the floor, stating he had not yielded it to
me for any such purpose. I struggled very hard to keep my
position on the floor, but the Speaker ruled that I had to give
way to Mr. Hale. I started to denounce Fry in the bitterest
terms that I could employ, but before I got the floor after Hale
finished, Mr. Fry apologized and said he did not mean to imply
that I was not an honest man. I said, "Then I will proceed
to state what I started to state when I was interrupted by the
gentleman from Maine. The gentleman from Maine said that
'he did not suppose there was a member of that sub-committee
who had the shadow of a shade of doubt of Blaine's innocence.'
I was the chairman of that sub-committee, occupying a quasi-
judicial position. I had striven hard to avoid making up an
opinion as to the guilt or innocence of Mr. Blaine until all the
testimony was in. It was not all in at that period, and there-
fore, I had not concluded as to his guilt or innocence." Fry
thought I was going to say I believed him guilty. If he had
known what I was going to say he would not have inter-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON i6i
Tucker, Goode, Cabell and myself were boarding at the same
house on G Street. It was Sunday following this debate, I think,
and a very warm day. I went to church — ^the Church of the
Epiphany — and when the morning services were over, it was so
warm that I determined to go to my quarters and see if I could
keep cool. At the door, I met a man in great distress, who asked
me if Dr. Barnes was in the church. I told him he was, and
called up one of the officers of the church and asked him to
get Dr. Barnes out. I asked the man what was the matter,
and he said Blaine had fallen in a fit in a church a hundred
yards away. Dr. Barnes came out and I went to my room.
Blaine had a very severe and protracted spell. A great many
people thought it was not real, and that he affected to be sick
in order to avoid this investigation. I thought he was sick.
Before he was well enough to come before the Committee, he
was elected to the Senate. He did not appear in the House any
more, but took his seat in the Senate. This ended the investiga-
tion in the House, because Blaine was no longer a member of it.
So far as the evidence taken in that investigation went, apart
from these letters there was nothing to convict Blaine of cor-
ruption, but it must be that he thought those letters would
convict him, if made public through the Committee. He would
not have made all this effort before James Mulligan, at the
Riggs House, to get these letters — he would not have told Mul-
ligan that these letters would disgrace not only him but his wife
and children — he would not have violated an implied pledge
when he took those letters and put them in his pocket — if he had
thought otherwise ; and so far as I know, nobody has ever seen
those letters since Blaine in this improper mode got possession
of them. It is true that he professed to read these letters to the
House, the last time he appeared in the House before his election
to the Senate. It is customary when a member has a document
of that sort to be put on record in the House, to send it to the
i62 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Clerk to be read. Blaine declined to do that, but read these
letters, or professed to read them, himself. Now whether they
were read truly or not I cannot say. Mulligan said they were
not truly read, and from the conduct of Blaine in regard to those
letters, it is scarcely possible to escape the conclusion that Blaine
was guilty of the corruption with which he was charged.
The Republican National Convention convened in Cincinnati
soon after this, and Blaine was a candidate for nomination for
President of the United States. They were afraid to nominate
him after this exposure, and Hayes was nominated in his stead.
But for this exposure it is almost certain that Blaine would have
been the nominee.
This was the first session of that Congress, which lasted late
into the year 1876 — the Presidential year. The Republicans
nominated, as I have just said, Rutherford B. Hayes, of Ohio.
The Democrats nominated Samuel }. Tilden, of New York.
It was a very exciting canvass, and Tilden was elected by quite
a large majority. The Republican National Committee was
presided over at that time by Zachary Chandler, of Michigan.
A little after midnight following the day of election, this Chair-
man of the Committee said, "Gentlemen, Samuel J. Tilden is
elected President of the United States," and went to bed — drunk,
very drunk. William E. Chandler, who was not a relative of
Zack Chandler, was on the Committee, said, "I don't give it
up" ; and he telegraphed Republican papers in the United States
to claim in its next morning's issue, that Rutherford B. Hayes
had so many electoral votes and was elected President of the
United States, and that he (Hayes) had carried the States of
Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina— which States had voted
for Tilden by a very large majority.
Taken in 1877 while a Member of the Electoral Commission.
HIS contention on the part of the Republicans that Hayes
was elected, created great excitement throughout the country,
and the RepubHcans set to work in the three disputed States of
Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina to make the returns
show that Hayes, and not Tilden, carried these States.
In each one of these States the Returning Board and the
Governor v/ere Republicans, and both parties tried earnestly to
make good their claims that their respective candidates had
carried these three States. Leading Republicans visited these
States and the greatest frauds under their manipulation were
practiced by the Returning Boards, especially of Florida and
Louisiana. These frauds were fully established by the friends
of Mr, Tilden. Their exposure makes it perfectly plain that
Samuel J. Tilden was under the constitution and laws of Con-
gress and of the States respectively, elected President of the
United States in November, 1876. The Democrats placed this
contention on the early legal returns which had been reversed
by the corrupt Returning Boards. The Republicans contended
that the Returning Boards had decided and the Governor cer-
tified and their decision was a finality. The whole country
was in a state of greatest excitement.
In this condition of affairs, Congress met on the ist Monday
of December, 1876 — less than a month after the election. The
Senate was Republican, and the House Democratic. It was
easy to foresee that the Senate would declare Hayes elected,
and that the House would declare Tilden elected. President
Grant, who was President at that time, was collecting a large
body of United States troops at the capital, and apprehensions
were felt by the best men of the country (in and out of Con-
164 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
gress) that unless some steps were taken, confusion and prob-
ably bloodshed would ensue. One or the other of the two
parties had to recede from their claims. Neither one seemed
disposed to do so, and the duty devolved upon the two houses
of Congress to adopt some measure which would settle this
disputed presidential election and avoid bloodshed. It was be-
lieved (and is still) that a firm stand taken by Mr. Tilden —
a declaration from him that he was elected and intended to be
inaugurated — would have settled the dispute. He would not
Samuel J. Randall, of Philadelphia, was the Speaker of the
House, and Senator Ferry, of Michigan, was the President pro
tem of the Senate, the Vice-President, Mr. Wilson having died.
It was very soon apparent that the two parties had sent to the
President of the Senate their electoral returns — the Democrats
claiming and reporting that the Democratic electors had cast
the true vote of these three States for Mr. Tilden — the Repub-
licans contending that the electors of these three States had cast
the true votes of the States for Mr. Hayes.
A resolution was introduced and adopted by the House, and
a similar one by the Senate to appoint a Committee of each
House to consider the result of this presidential election, and
to report some measure by which it might be carried into opera-
tion without bloodshed. The Committee of the House was com-
posed of Mr. Henry B. Payne, of Ohio, as the Chairman, and
four other Democrats, I being one of them. There were four
Republicans upon this Committee. This Committee met and
went earnestly and honestly to work to solve this dispute, and
agreed unanimously upon a bill by which an Electoral Com-
mission was to be appointed, which should consider the ques-
tions involved in the disputed States, decide which was the true
electoral vote, and report to Congress their decision. The deci-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 165
sion of this Commission was to settle the question, unless it was
reversed by the united action of both houses of Congress. The
Bill framed by this Committee of the House was a fair one.
It was, and is now conceded, if passed into a law, Mr. Tilden
would have been inaugurated. It was not reported to the House
and can't be found and copied.
After the House Committee had acted and agreed upon this
bill, it met the Senate Committee, and thereafter the two Com-
mittees held joint meetings.
The Senate Committee had adopted a most outrageous bill,
by the main features of which the Presidency could be decided
by chance. Mr. Payne, the Chairman of the House Committee,
moved to substitute the bill prepared by the House Committee
for that prepared by the Senate Committee. This motion was
lost by a tie vote; and then the Democrats of the two Com-
mittees addressed themselves to the task of improving the bill
of the Senate Committee. It was very much improved. Its
main features are as follows:
"Section 2nd. That if more than one return, or paper pur-
porting to be a return from a State shall have been received
by the President of the Senate purporting to be certificates of
Electoral votes given at the last preceding election for President
and Vice-President of the United States in such State (unless
they shall be duplicates of the same return) all such returns
and papers shall be opened by him in the presence of the two
Houses when met as aforesaid and read by the tellers; and all
such returns and papers shall thereupon be submitted to the
judgment and decision (as to which is the true and lawful
electoral vote of such State) to an electoral commission con-
stituted as follows:
. "During the session of each House on the Tuesday next
preceding the first Thursday in February, 1877, ^^^^ House
i66 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
shall by viva voce vote appoint five of its members, v^^ho with
the five associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United
States (to be ascertained as hereafter provided) shall constitute
a commission for the decision of all questions upon or in respect
to such double returns named in this Section — On Tuesday next,
preceding the first Thursday in February A. D. 1877, or as
soon thereafter as may be, the associate Justices of Supreme
Court of United States now assigned to the First, Third, Eighth
and Ninth Circuits, shall select in such manner as a majority
of them deem fit another of the associate Justices of said Court
which five persons shall be members of said commission. * * *
All the certificates and papers purporting to be certificates of
the electoral vote of each State shall be opened in alphabetical
order, as before provided in Section one, and where there shall
be more than one such certificate or paper, as the certificates
or papers from such State shall be opened, they shall be read
by the Tellers and thereupon the President of the Senate shall
call for objections, if any — Every objection shall be made in
writing. * * *
"When all such objections so made to any certificate vote or
paper from a State shall have been received and read, all such
certificates, votes and papers so objected to, and all papers ac-
companying the same, together with such objections shall be
forthwith submitted to such commission which shall proceed
to consider the same with the same power, if any, now possessed
for that purpose by the two Houses acting separately or together,
and by a majority of votes decide," etc.
Then it provides that the two Houses shall again meet and
upon objections to the decision made, as therein provided, the
two Houses shall again separate and unless both Houses acting
separately shall order otherwise, the decision of the commis-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 167
sion shall stand and the vote be counted in conformity there-
The Committees were acting behind closed doors and while
maturing this bill, each member was pledged to secrecy. To
our surprise and indignation, after the bill was nearly perfected
and agreed upon, one of the New York papers published the
bill almost verbatim as agreed upon. This caused the greatest
excitement. Many members, especially Democrats of the House,
declared they would see war in preference to the settlement
under this bill. A conference of the leading Democratic mem-
bers of the two Houses was called. Samuel J. Randall, Speaker,
was called to the Chair and explained that the meeting was
called to advise whether the Democrats should accept or reject
this bill. Randall made a war speech — so did Watterson, of
Kentucky; Sparks and Springer, of Illinois. They declared
they were ready for war and its consequences rather than submit
to the settlement of the Presidential question under that bill.
Thurman and Bayard made conservative speeches advising ac-
ceptance of the bill.
I spoke last and friends said if I lived a hundred years, I
would never make another speech to compare with that — I
said in part, that I came to Washington at the beginning of
the session convinced that Tilden was lawfully elected Presi-
dent of the United States. That all I had seen and heard since
had deepened that conviction. That I was willing to go as far
as any man to carry out the will of the people. But we must
look into the condition of affairs candidly before we resolve
upon a course which would probably bring the country into war.
I said that it was apparent without this or some other law,
the House would declare Tilden President and the Senate Hayes.
That Grant, then President, was collecting the Federal army in
i68 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Washington. That on 4th March, under the declaration of the
Senate, Hayes would be escorted by his political friends and
Federal bayonets to the capitol — deliver his inaugural, and be
similarly escorted to the White House. That on the following
day, he would send his cabinet appointments to the Senate and
he would be in the White House as President with a cabinet —
in command of the Army and Navy — and appropriations to
last till 30th of June. To remove Hayes and put Tilden in,
we must fight. Are we ready for such a war? It must be
understood that the South could not initiate such a fight. They
could only reinforce our northern friends — who promised aid to
us in our late struggle and then (many of them) fought against
us. Now you gentlemen of the north must inaugurate this war
and conduct it to success. If unsuccessful, the Southern States
would again be reduced to Military Districts and remain so
I said further — There is not a northern State that has a
Democratic organization in both its executive and Legislative
Departments. You cannot expect any northern State to send
an army, however small, to fight for the rights of the people.
Reliance must be entirely on volunteers. Then turning succes-
sively to those who had made war speeches, I asked — How many
men from your State can you put in the field? Where will
*My father has told me that in addition to what he has stated above, he
said in his speech that he had had some experience in war, a war upon
which the South had entered with the assurance of support from Northern
Democrats, a support which was never given and which if given would
have changed the result of our war. He was familiar with the desolation,
the horrors, the agony of an unsuccessful war, but that he was perfecdy
willing to go into another war in defense of his people if he had reasonable
assurances from the Northern Democrats of troops and munitions suffi-
cient to give hope of success, as the South alone and unaided was mani-
fesdy unequal to the conflict.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 169
you obtain the money to pay them? Where will you obtain
arms and ammunition? Where Commissary and Quarter-
master supplies? These are important questions and I pause
for a reply.
Not one of them opened his mouth. Watterson said, "Mr.
Chairman, I see there is to be no fight — I retreat in good order."
The others said the same in substance. From that time on the
leading Democrats agreed that it was the chances under the
Electoral Bill, or the certainty of Hayes. I felt sanguine if the
letter and spirit of the bill were carried out Tilden must be
seated. I had not much confidence in the Republicans of the
Committee from either House, but I could not believe that of
the three Republican Justices one could not be found to rise above
party and do justice.
Senator Morton, Republican, of Indiana, of the Senate Com-
mittee, refused to sign the report. I held out against the report
for several days. The Committee informed me that at the next
meeting I must sign the report, or it would be made to the two
Houses without my signature. I sought Mr. Pelton, the nephew
of Mr. Tilden, who was in Washington representing his uncle,
and asked him what his uncle's views were about this bill. He
said, "His uncle wanted a better bill." I said, "So do I"; but
I had exhausted all my efforts to get a better bill, and it was
this bill or none, and I desired to know from him what Mr.
Tilden thought about it. He replied again that "His uncle
wanted a better bill." I said, "If that is all the information
you can give me, I will sign the report," which I subsequently
This bill, reported from the joint committee of the two
Houses, passed and became a law. It then devolved upon the
two Houses to select their members of this Commission. My
friends insisted that I should be a candidate for the caucus
170 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
nomination. Mr. Tucker's friends insisted that he should be.
It was very certain that two Virginians could not go on the
Commission, and that if both were candidates both would be
defeated, and the friends of Mr. Tucker and myself insisted
that there must not be any controversy between us for the place;
that we had been warm personal friends too long to let this
struggle cause an alienation. It was finally agreed between
Mr. Tucker and myself that he and I would name friends, who
would decide which of us would seek nomination for member-
ship on the Commission. Our friends met and failed to agree,
and then without the knowledge of Mr. Tucker or myself, they
determined to decide the question by lot, and I won.* I sup-
*My father told me that the committee after many conferences had been
unable to reach any agreement and were about to adjourn when some one
proposed that they should draw straws to see who should be the candidate.
This was agreed upon and Mr. Benjamin H. Hill held the straws. Mr.
Henry Watterson represented Mr. Tucker and Mr. J. S. C. Blackburn rep-
resenting my father drew the winning straw.
Mr. John Goode in his book "Recollections of a Lifetime," at page 157,
gives the following account of the manner in which my father was selected
as a member of the Electoral Commission.
"Before closing it may be a matter of interest to refer to an incident con-
nected with the formation of the Electoral Commission. It having been
intimated to the Virginia delegation in Congress by members of the
Democratic caucus that our State might be honored with a place on the
Commission, provided we could agree on a candidate to be presented, we
were unable to decide between Eppa Hunton and John Randolph Tucker.
Whereupon it was determined that the matter should be decided by lot.
Benjamin H. Hill of Georgia, one of the most brilliant orators and states-
men whom it has ever been my good fortune to meet, held the straws, and
Hunton was the winner. Mr. Tucker rendered valuable and conspicuous
service as one of the Representatives of the Tilden electors before the Com-
mission, and fully sustained his great reputation as a learned lawyer and
eloquent advocate. General Hunton, as a member of the Commission,
dignified and adorned the high station by his admirable judicial temper,
and delivered opinions in the Florida, Louisiana, Oregon, and South
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 171
posed then that the struggle between Mr. Tucker's friends and
mine was over, but when the caucus met a mode of proceeding
was adopted which I had never seen practiced before, or since.
There were to be no nominating speeches, but each man in the
caucus was to cast his ballot for his preference. I always be-
lieved that this mode was adopted in obedience to the wishes of
Mr. Tucker's friends, that though he was ruled out by our
agreement, yet he might be voted for in this manner in the
House caucus. Accordingly, when the caucus met and this
mode was adopted, quite a number voted for Mr. Tucker. It
was also urged against me that it would not do to elect a Con-
federate Brigadier to settle this contested presidential election,
and this too probably lost me some votes. I was largely in the
majority over Mr. Tucker, but did not have a majority of the
caucus by reason of the votes given to Mr. Tucker.
Mr. Payne was selected on the first ballot. A second ballot
was had and I was selected. On the third ballot Josiah G. Aboott,
of Boston, was selected. The Republicans in the caucus nomi-
nated George F. Hoar, of Massachusetts, and Mr. James Gar-
field, of Ohio. In the Senate, which was Republican, they had
three Republicans: George F. Edmunds, of Massachusetts;
Oliver P. Morton, of Indiana, and Frelinghuysen, of New
Jersey; and two Democrats: Thurman, of Ohio, and Bayard,
of Delaware. The Judges were ClifTord, Field, Bradley, Strong
and Miller. Mr. Justice Clifford was the President of the Com-
mission, by reason of his seniority over the other Justices.
At the appointed time the two Houses proceeded to count
Carolina cases which will long stand as monuments to his wisdom, learn-
ing and patriotism.
"It will thus be seen that in this as in every great crisis of the country's
history the sons of the Old Dominibn proved themselves in every respect
worthy of her hereditary renown and her pristine glory."
172 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
the presidential vote and determine and declare whether
Tilden or Hayes was elected President of the United States. No
controversy arose until the State of Florida was reached — the
States being called alphabetically. When that State was reached,
the President of the Senate laid before the two Houses three
certificates of electoral vote — two of them declaring that the
State had voted for Tilden, and one declaring that it had voted
for Hayes. The Republicans had to have every vote from those
three disputed States, and the one disputed vote from Oregon,
in order to elect Hayes by one single vote.
These certificates of the electors from the State of Florida,
and the accompanying papers, were referred to this Commis-
sion. The two Houses separated and adjourned, and the Com-
mission met. It appeared that the State of Florida by a small
majority had cast its electoral vote for Samuel J. Tilden. The
returns sent in from the different precincts and counties showed
this beyond controversy. The Returning Board met and de-
clared that the vote of the State had been cast for Tilden's
electors by a small majority. One member of that board, who
did not attend the meeting, organized another returning board,
and in the night time went to the Clerk's Office, procured the
papers of the first Board, and without the slightest evidence
or excuse discarded enough Democratic votes to give the State
to Hayes by a small majority. When asked if they had any
evidence upon which they based this action, a member of the
Board replied, No, but they had an impression that there was
fraud and intimidation at some of the precincts, and fraud in
Stearns was the Governor of the State of Florida at the time,
a violent Republican, who at the same election was candidate
for re-election as Governor; and the same Returning Board
which gave the certificate to the Hayes electors certified that
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 173
Stearns was elected Governor. The Board which first met
declared Drew (Democrat) elected.
This action of the second returning board caused intense
excitement and indignation throughout the State of Florida. An
effort was set on foot at once to right the wrong that was
being perpetrated. The Tilden electors sued out a writ of quo
warranto to test before the courts which set of electors had been
chosen in Florida. This was before the electors met. The case
was very vigorously fought on both sides, and the Court with-
out hesitation decided that the Tilden electors were the true
electors of the State of Florida. There was an appeal from
this decision, which was never tried. Drew, the Democratic
candidate for Governor, against Stearns, sued out a writ of quo
warranto to settle the question as to who was Governor of the
State. The Court decided that Drew was elected Governor,
and on the ist day of January, he took his seat as Governor.
The Legislature of Florida assembled at the same time, and
was Democratic. They passed a law authorizing another canvass
of the vote of Florida by a new canvassing Board. This Board
met, canvassed the vote, and certified that the Tilden electors
had been duly elected, and this was certified by the Governor,
and was one of the papers laid before the Electoral Commission.
The Legislature also passed a law declaring that the Tilden
electors were the true electors of the State of Florida. Thus the
State through its Legislative, Executive and Judicial Depart-
ments, declared that it had voted for Tilden as President of the
When these three certificates were laid before the Commis-
sion, the Democratic managers and counsel offered to prove
these facts as stated above, and after a very hard fight, lasting
through many days, the Electoral Commission by a vote of
8 Republicans to 7 Democrats decided that the certificate which
174 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Stearns as Governor issued to the Hayes electors, was conclusive
evidence of their election, and that the Commission would not
receive any evidence to meet that conclusion. The Democrats
contended it was only prima facie and might be shown to be
This decision of the Commission was reported to both Houses
of Congress. The House by quite a good majority declared
that the decision of the Commission should not stand, and that
the vote of the State should be counted for Tilden. The Senate
in its session declared that this decision of the Commission
should stand, and that the vote of the Hayes electors should be
counted for Hayes.
The two Houses having disagreed, under the provision of the
bill the decision of the Commission stood as the law governing
the count, and the four electoral votes of Florida were counted
This was a thorough outrage upon the rights of the State of
Florida. There was no man of intelligence who had looked
into the case, who did not recognize the fact that the State of
Florida had voted for Tilden, and there was no evidence at all
to show that there was any fraud, intimidation or force used
to carry this majority for Mr. Tilden. Indeed the election ma-
chinery was in the hands of the Republicans — Republican Gov-
ernor, Republican Returning Board, and a majority of the
Republican Judges of Election throughout the State; and yet
notwithstanding these circumstances the State voted for Tilden
and it was so declared by the first meeting of the Returning
The decision of the Commission giving the vote of Florida
to Hayes was a surprise to the Democrats of the Commission.
It was not expected that the Republicans of the House and
Senate would, under any circumstances, vote to seat Tilden.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 175
It was hoped the Republican Justices of Supreme Court would
act as judges and rise above partisan politics. It was confidently
believed this v/as true of Justice Bradley. He was selected by
the other four Justices who were designated by their circuits
and in this selection of the fifth Justice they should have regard
to his "impartiality and freedom from bias." It was understood
and conceded that Justice David Davis would be the fifth
Justice. He was an independent Republican without partisan
prejudices; had been frequently spoken of as the candidate of
the Democratic party for President. His appointment, it was
believed, would have seated Tilden. The Republicans (always
shrewd and shifty) determined to keep Davis from the com-
mission. He was elected United States Senator from Illinois
by a Republican legislature and persuaded if he would steer
clear of this commission, he would be President. He declined
to serve and was never mentioned for President afterwards.
It was agreed that Bradley more nearly approached "impartiality
and freedom from bias" than any other associate Justice after
Davis. The Democrats of the commission firmly believed that
he was with us until he voted against receiving any evidence to
right the wrong of Governor Stearns' certificate. During the
progress of this case before the Commission, Bradley had as-
sociated with the Democrats. He had told Justice Field on the
Sunday before the commission first sat that his opinions agreed
with Field's. The case had been so thoroughly discussed in the
newspapers that every phase of it was well known before the
commission was appointed. Republican pressure was too strong
and he yielded. We knew nothing of this change in his opinion
until he voted to exclude all evidence aliunde and consider
as exclusive and binding the certificate of Stearns, the governor,
of the election of Hayes electors. Mr. Justice Field was so
indignant at this conduct of Bradley's, he refused to speak to
176 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
him for eighteen months. I have stated here what Justice Field
told me and probably many others. How utterly untenable was
the position of Bradley and the seven who voted with him!
They maintained the commission could do nothing but inspect
and count the votes as cast by the electors certified by the Gov-
ernor to be elected. Then why this commission? The Presi-
dent of the Senate could have done the same and saved the
debauching of Justices of the Supreme Court.
The mode of counting and declaring the votes for President,
etc., under the Constitution was always a vexed question when
it involved who would be President and the power to count by
the Vice-President was denied. If the two Houses have no
rights in this counting of electoral votes, they have on many
occasions been guilty of gross usurpation of power. By reference
to House Doc. 13 of 45th Congress (page 46) it will be seen that
doubts arose in 18 17 about the right of electors to cast the vote
of Indiana. In 1821 of Missouri (page 51) and in 1837 of
Michigan (page 72). In each of these cases the votes were
counted in alternative.
In 1865 the votes of the seceded States were rejected by both
Houses in the count (page 229). In 1869 the vote of Louisiana
was objected to on the ground of fraud. It was considered and
counted (page 238). In 1873 there were two certificates and
seven objections to the vote of Louisiana. The vote was not
counted (page 301). Other precedents might be cited, but
these will suffice to show when the Electoral Bill of 1877 was
enacted these precedents existed and showed that this power
was claimed and exercised when it was necessary. That no
power resided in the Vice-President to count a vote when dis-
puted. This law of 1877 was passed to create a tribunal whose
duty was to do what the two Houses had power to do in count-
ing the vote. It cannot be successfully maintained on precedent
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 177
and authority that the law of 1877 created this commission
merely to add up and report the votes of electors having the
Governor's certificates. If so, then by a conspiracy between the
Governor of a State and his party, a forged certificate of votes
could be sent to the Vice-President with the Governor's cer-
tificate, and under the contention of the eight commissioners,
these votes must be counted. This actually happened, as I will
show when the vote of Louisiana is reached.
In addition to the above offers of proof, it was offered to prove
that one of the so-called Hayes electors — Mr. Humphreys — held
an office of trust and profit under the United States Government
at the time of his alleged appointment. The constitution of the
United States says (Article 2— Sect, i) "Each State shall ap-
point electors . . . but no Senator or Representative or person
holding an office of trust or profit under the United States shall
be appointed an elector."
The right to appoint electors is not an original State right.
None such existed till conferred by the constitution forming the
union. Being a right conferred, it must be exercised according
to the terms by which it was conferred. If Humphreys was
ever appointed an elector (which was denied) he was appointed
on the day of election. Proof was offered to show on that day
he held an office of trust and profit under the United States,
and it was maintained that all such votes cast for him were
void and he was not and could not be elected. The Republican
managers contended that no such proof was admissable and
that Humphreys had resigned his office of trust before the elec-
toral college met and was appointed one of its members by the
other members of the college. What a shallow pretension. The
law gave the college the right to fill vacancies, but if the election
of Humphreys was void, there was no vacancy. There was the
appointment of three electors. The right of the State to the
178 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
fourth was not exercised. In the Presidential count of 1837 this
question was raised. Rhode Island had voted for a Postmaster
as elector. The question was referred to a committee of which
Felix Grundy, Silas Wright and Henry Clay were members.
This committee in its report fully sustained the contention of
the Democratic managers, but the vote of Rhode Island was
not necessary to a decision of the question, and no action was
had on the report. The question came up again in Rhode Island
in 1876 when a centennial commissioner claimed to be appointed
as elector. The Government referred this question to the Su-
preme Court of the State. The opinion of the court fully sus-
tained the position of the Democrats. This case will be found
in i6th American Law Register N. S. page 15.
Suppose the State of Florida had attempted to appoint her
two Senators, and two Representatives, her four electors ; it will
hardly be contended that this action would be sustained even
if their election was certified by the Governor of Florida.
Upon reason and authority, it was the duty of the Commis-
sion to receive, consider and act on such proof as was offered.
Like the other offers of proof and for like reason, this offer of
proof was rejected by the same vote — 8 to 7.
The action of Bradley in this Florida case foreshadowed his
course in other States, and we felt very much discouraged after
this decision. I received a telegram from Loudoun County
signed "Chas. H. Lee and 100 others" demanding that I should
leave the commission and break it up. I felt obliged in honor
to refuse obedience to this request of my honored constituents
of dear old Loudoun. I felt I would dishonor myself and them
if I repudiated this mode of settlement which we had adopted
after finding we should lose. My Loudoun friends were mad
with me till I spoke to them and explained the situation and
said, "Now, my fellow citizens, if I had acted as you desired
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 179
and war had come, defeat would have been our portion, the
Southern States, including dear old Virginia, would have been
reduced to Military Districts and no one before me could hope
to live to see them States again, and you ought to have hanged
me to the first tree this side the Long Bridge." When I con-
cluded, a resolution approving my course was offered and
unanimously adopted by the meeting.
We still hoped to make a case in Louisiana (our strongest
case) that would compel some one of the eight to see the error
of his way.
X HE two houses of Congress proceeded with the votes of
the States, alphabetically, until the State of Louisiana was
reached. From that State there had been three returns made —
two giving the vote of the State to Hayes, and one giving it to
Tilden. According to the returns that came into New Orleans
from the various precincts in the State, Louisiana gave 8,000
majority for Tilden, and the Democratic candidate for Gover-
nor, and these returns all went into the hands of the returning
board. Under the laws of Louisiana, this board had no au-
thority to look into and correct returns, unless these returns
were accompanied by a statement signed by three witnesses
under oath that there was fraud, intimidation and violence at
the polls, sufficient to deter a number of people from voting
on the day of election. No such certificates had accompanied
the returns from any precinct in this State, and the board was
therefore, without jurisdiction to look into the question of votes
in the State. Their sole duty was to tabulate the votes and count
them, and decide for whom the State had voted.
When this case came before the Commission, the counsel
managing the Tilden side of the case offered to show that these
returns thus made to the returning board, were without the ac-
companying evidence necessary to authorize the returning board
to inquire into the returns. They offered to prove, also, that
this returning board which by law should consist of five mem-
bers, one of which at least must belong to the minority party in
the State, had only four members, all belonging to the Repub-
lican party, who refused to fill the vacancy by the appointment
of a Democrat to act with them. They offered to prove that
this board was corrupt and offered to sell the vote of the State
i82 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
to the Tilden electors. They also offered to prove that this board
usurped jurisdiction to look into the returns from the different
counties of the State, and by a system of fraud, corruption and
perjury threw out from the returns ten thousand votes that were
cast for the Tilden electors, thus giving the State to Hayes by
two thousand majority. They offered to prove also that two of
the electors on the Hayes ticket were ineligible by reason of the
fact that they held offices of trust and profit under the United
States Government. This returning board certified to Kellogg,
the acting Governor, that the Hayes electors were duly chosen,
and he gave them the usual certificate. The counsel offered
also to prove that Kellogg, the acting Governor, was one of the
electors, and maintained that he could not certify his own
There was another certificate from the State of Louisiana,
which certified that the Tilden electors were chosen. This cer-
tificate was signed by McEnery, who in the same election was
elected Governor, by the same majority cast for the Tilden
electors. These certificates Vv^ere forwarded to the acting Presi-
dent of the Senate.
There were two certificates certifying the election of the
Hayes electors. They were numbered i and 3. It was de-
veloped in the next Congress, by means of the Potter Committee
which was appointed by the House of Representatives to in-
vestigate the frauds of the Presidential Election of 1876, that the
second certificate of the election of the Hayes electors. No. 3, was
forged. The first certificate of the election of the Hayes electors,
No. I, was sent by the Electoral College to Washington by one
of the smartest fellows I have ever met, and one of the biggest
scoundrels and liars. After delivering the certificate to the Vice-
President, they talked over the action of the Electoral Board in
Louisiana, and it was developed in this conversation that the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 183
Hayes electors had signed but one certificate, that is, a cer-
tificate in which the vote was certified both for Hayes as Presi-
dent, and for Wheeler as Vice-President.
The Constitution of the United States expressly requires that
there shall be separate certificates — one for the President and
one for the Vice-President. A consultation was had between
the acting Vice-President, Ferry, and the leaders of the Repub-
lican Party, upon this state of affairs, and it was decided that they
would send this man back to reconvene the Republican Electoral
College and conform to the Constitution by making two sepa-
rate certificates. This man repaired promptly and hastily to
New Orleans, and when he got there he found that the Hayes
electors were scattered and could not be convened in time to
make the two separate certificates. This scoundrel, therefore,
drew the certificates according to the constitutional require-
ments, obtained the signatures of several of the electors to each
one of them, and forged the names of the other electors. He
brought these certificates back and put them into the hands
of the Vice-President; and it was upon this certificate, thus
forged with certificate No. i which was unconstitutional, that
the Commission, refusing to hear any evidence or any objection,
declared that the State of Louisiana had voted for Hayes, by a
vote of 8 Republicans against 7 Democrats.
This vote of the State of Louisiana was reported by the
majority of the Commission to the two Houses of Congress,
was rejected in the House and received in the Senate and under
the provision of the law became the vote of Louisiana. The
count proceeded, counting the votes of Louisiana for Hayes and
Wheeler. This action of the Commission was the crowning
outrage of its brief existence. By it the right of the State of
Louisiana to cast its vote as its people had declared was denied
and her vote was cast for Hayes under the certificate of a Repub-
184 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
lican Board and of Governor Kellogg procured by conspiracy,
fraud, forgery and perjury unexampled in this or any other
country. The Democratic managers offered to prove this con-
spiracy. They offered to show under the laws of Louisiana that
this Board had no jurisdiction to do more than tabulate and
count the returns, and that this Board without jurisdiction pro-
cured fraudulent evidence and perjured afl&davits upon which
to found their action and in many of their high-handed acts
without even such evidence as this. Affidavits of the conduct of
election in distant parishes were received, made by men in New
Orleans who were not present at the election and had never been
in the parishes. There was a conspiracy regularly entered into
before the election by Carpet-bag Republicans in New Orleans
to certify the vote of the State for Hayes without regard to the
vote cast. This Board which usurped authority was not even
a legal Board. The law of Louisiana prescribed it should con-
sist of five members, with one of its members from the minority
party. It consisted of only four, all Republicans, who per-
sistently refused to appoint a Democrat to fill the vacancy. They
were urged to fill this vacancy, but refused on the ground they
did not want a Democratic witness to their proceedings. The
authorities established that where the law requires an act of
a public nature to be done by a certain number, that number
must be present or have the opportunity to be present. This is
especially true when the Board is to consist of representatives
of different parties. This doctrine is well sustained in Went-
worth vs. Farmington, 49 New Hamp. p. 129, and many other
cases. Its most elaborate endorsement was by Mr. Justice Miller
(a Republican member of this commission) in an able opinion
delivered in Schenck vs. Peay found in ist Woolworth's Circuit
Court Reports p. 175. Other authorities might be quoted, but
these were enough to satisfy the mind of any fair man — espe-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 185
cially of Judge Miller of the Commission. Miller on the bench
was put against Miller on the Commission. The Democratic
managers also offered to prove that two of the pretended Hayes
electors, A. B. Levissee and O. B. Brewster, held offices of trust
and profit under the United States at the time of their election
and that the votes cast for them were absolutely void and of
no effect. I refer to my remarks on this subject in the Florida
case and only wish to add that the provision of the constitution
prohibiting their election in its application to this case means
that the State of Louisiana may appoint eight electors but
Levissee and Brewster shall not be appointed. Any attempt to
appoint them is unconstitutional and void and that the State
appointed only six electors. No vacancy was created by this
failure to elect because the places were never filled. Congress
provided for just such cases in the Act of 1808, which authorized
the State to provide for filling the vacancy by a subsequent
popular election. In no event could more than six votes from
Louisiana be counted for Hayes. By this count Tilden was
It would exceed the limits of this biography to dwell longer
upon this action of the eight Republicans of the Commission.
The certificates Nos. i and 3 on which they declared the eight
votes for Hayes were procured and upheld by a system of fraud,
perjury and forgery unexampled in this or any other country
and makes true the assertion that although Tilden was fairly
and legally elected, the Republican party determined per fas
aut per ne fas to inaugurate Hayes.
The vote of the Returning Board in Louisiana was offered to
the friends of Tilden for $200,000. The offer was declined.
If it had been accepted the Republicans would have given a
larger sum. But it is further evidence of the damnable cor-
ruption of that Board. Long after this General Grant said to
i86 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
George W. Childs and Anthony J. Drexel that he always sup-
posed from the beginning of the controversy that the vote of
Louisiana would be counted for Tilden.
In an article in McClure's Magazine for May, 1904, contrib-
uted by Joseph M. Rogers, he embodies a statement of Hon.
George F. Hoar which I think does gross injustice to our Demo-
cratic members of this Commission. Mr. Hoar is made to say
(page 84) : "So of the eight Democrats who sat on the com-
mission (though there were but seven Democrats at any one
time), four were of the opinion that the majority were right."
The four Democrats named by Mr. Hoar are Thurman and
Bayard, Abbott and Kernan. Kernan took Mr. Thurman's place
(who was taken very sick). He did not become a member of
the Commission till the last disputed State (South Carolina)
was before the Commission. I have no recollection of any
views he expressed on the point of going behind the Governor's
certificate. When the motion of Commissioner Morton to de-
clare the Commission had no power to receive evidence aliunde
was offered, Justice Field offered a substitute declaring that evi-
dence was admissable to sustain the Tilden contentions. Com-
missioner Kernan voted for Field's substitute with the other six
Democrats. He also voted against Morton's resolution.
Commissioners Thurman, Bayard and Abbott were during
the many sessions of the Commission pronounced advocates for
the right and duty of the Commission to hear evidence to correct
the illegality and fraud by which Hayes electors were declared
and certified to be elected. They not only voted consistently to
carry out this Democratic contention, but by their motions and
speeches emphasized their convictions. I was very much sur-
prised at this statement and am satisfied Mr. Hoar has done
injustice to these gentlemen. They were among the highest
gentlemen of this country — honorable and high-toned. It is
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 187
not possible that they held the opinion that the Commission
had no power to go behind the Governor's certificate and per-
sistently voted to do that very thing. They spoke and voted
according to their convictions. They are all dead. I hardly
think Mr. Hoar would have made this statement if they were
HE next State reached, whose vote was disputed, was
Oregon. This State had given a small majority for the Hayes
electors. One of them named Watts was a postmaster, and by
the terms of the Constitution he was prohibited from being
made an elector. When the votes were returned to the Secre-
tary of State, who with the Governor constituted the returning
board of Oregon, they decided that Watts, being ineligible, the
votes for him could not be counted, but the next highest man,
Mr. Cronin, was the duly appointed third elector. On the day
appointed by law, Cronin met and invited the other two Repub-
lican electors to act with him and form an electoral board.
They declined to act with him, and he filled the vacancy by
appointing two other Republicans, and this board, thus con-
stituted, gave two votes to Hayes and Wheeler and one vote to
Tilden. The other two electors who had received a majority,
met as an electoral board, and Watts, the ineligible candidate,
resigned his place as elector and his position as postmaster, and
was appointed by the other two as one of the electoral college,
and they cast the three votes of Oregon for Hayes and Wheeler.
The Governor certified the election of Cronin and the two
Republicans, which certificate was attested by the Secretary of
State who attached the seal of the State.
Now in the case of Florida and Louisiana, the majority of
the Commission had decided that they would not go behind
the Governor's certificate, and we urged strenuously that the
doctrine they applied to Louisiana and Florida should be applied
to Oregon, and that one of the votes of Oregon ought to be
counted for Tilden. I took the ground that the State of Oregon
had voted Republican, and that we had no right to cast either
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
one of its electoral votes for Mr. Tilden, but that there were only
two Republican electors elected and that, therefore, there ought
only to be two votes from the State of Oregon counted for
Mr. Hayes. The Republican electoral board cast its three votes
for Hayes and Wheeler, and they were certified by the Secretary
of State; but notwithstanding the action of the majority of the
Commission in the States of Florida and Louisiana, those same
members of the Commission decided in the case of Oregon that
the certificate of the Secretary of State was conclusive, and
would not stand up to their doctrine theretofore proclaimed,
that the certificate of the Governor only was conclusive; and
counted the three votes of that State for Hayes and Wheeler.
The decision of the Commission was reported to the two Houses
of Congress; the vote of Oregon was counted for Hayes and
Wheeler, and the count proceeded.
I wish to be a little more specific about the State of Oregon.
By its laws the vote cast for electors in each county was to be
forwarded to the Secretary of State, who was, in the presence
of the Governor, required to canvass the vote and then make
duplicate lists of all persons chosen as electors and put the State
seal thereto. Such lists shall be signed by the Governor and
The Governor and Secretary of State decided that Watts was
ineligible and certified to the election of Cronin the next highest
candidate for elector. Afterward the Secretary of State alone
certified the election of the three Republican electors including
Watts. The very consistent eight members of the Commission
who had (in spite of fraud, perjury and usurpation) declared in
the cases of Florida and Louisiana that the Governor's certificate
was conclusive, now claimed and decided that the certificate of
the Secretary of State was conclusive even against the certificate
of the Governor and the Secretary of State.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 191
It only demonstrates what I have before declared to be my
opinion that the eight Republican members of the Commission
were carrying out their plan to seat Hayes without regard to
fraud, perjury, forgery and without regard to their own con-
The next State reached, about which there was a dispute,
v/as South Carolina. The returns in South Carolina gave the
State by a small majority to Hayes and Wheeler. The Demo-
cratic counsel offered to prove before the Commission that the
Constitution of South Carolina provided that there should be a
registration of all the voters of the State, as the first qualification
to vote. The legislature of South Carolina made no provision
for this registration, and there was none in the State, and there-
fore, no legal voter in the State of South Carolina. This was
one of the grounds upon which it was sought to exclude the
State of South Carolina from the count.
Another ground was that there was no republican government
in South Carolina. In the month of October preceding the elec-
tion, the President of the United States had sent General Reuger
to South Carolina with a portion of the Federal army, with in-
structions to call for more troops if more were necessary. General
Reuger reported to the President that everything was quiet in
the State, and that no more troops were necessary; but notwith-
standing this, just before the election, quite a large portion of
the Federal army was sent down to South Carolina. Federal
soldiers surrounded the polls; the State militia surrounded the
polls ; there were thousands of deputy-sheriffs appointed — all of
the Republican party. There were thousands of deputy-marshals
appointed — all of the Republican party. The Federal and State
troops, the deputy-sheriffs and the deputy-marshals were guilty
of the greatest outrages all through the State, so that the election
in that State became a farce — or a tragedy, whichever you may
192 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
choose to call it. People were shot down, driven from the polls,
and the negroes emboldened by the presence of the troops and
the marshals, committed all sorts of outrages upon the people;
and the election in that State, as I have said, became a farce, or
For these reasons the Democratic managers moved to exclude
the State of South Carolina from the count; but the majority of
the Commission — the same eight Republicans — voted that the
election was all right, decided that the votes should be counted
for Hayes and Wheeler, reported this decision to the two Houses
of Congress, and the vote was counted for the Republican can-
didates for President and Vice-President.
The House of Representatives was Democratic; the Senate
was Republican, and when either of these four States was re-
ported the House sided with the minority of the Commission
and the Senate with the majority. Under the terms of the bill,
unless both Houses decided against the majority of the Commis-
sion, the report should rule ; and although in every instance the
House voted to sustain the minority of the Commission, the vote
of the majority of the Commission was sustained, because both
Houses did not concur in reversing it.
When the case from Louisiana was before the Commission, it
was very well understood that Roscoe B. Conkling, Senator from
the State of New York, would vote with the Democrats to reverse
the decision of the Commission in that case, and that enough
Republican Senators from the Southern States would follow
Conkling to convert the Democratic minority into a majority
of the Senate. All this was thoroughly understood. The
Republican Senators who would follow Conkling were known
and named, and it looked as if in the State of Louisiana we
would reverse the action of the Commission.
The greatest efforts were made to induce Conkling to stand
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 193
by his party friends in the Senate. He was very determined,
and no effort was made that was successful until they brought
the influence of Mrs. Sprague to bear upon him. She was the
daughter of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, and the wife of
Governor Sprague of Rhode Island and a very beautiful woman.
It was said, and believed, that she induced Conkling — after
failing to get him to vote with the Republicans — to leave the
Senate Chamber when the Louisiana count came up. These
Southern Senators, who were to follow Conkling, having lost
their leader, went back to their party, and the majority of the
Senate voted to sustain the action of the Commission.
The count of the electoral vote proceeded by the two houses
of Congress, and by counting Florida, Louisiana, the one vote
from Oregon, and the State of South Carolina, Hayes and
Wheeler were declared elected by one majority.
This action of the Commission was the most thorough out-
rage. There was not a man of them on that Commission who
did not know that according to the forms of the Constitution
and the law, Tilden was elected President of the United States.
It is rare now that you meet a candid Republican who will not
agree that Tilden was elected President.
This Electoral Commission ought never to have been a neces-
sity, and if Mr. Tilden had been a man of nerve (after the order
of Andrew Jackson), it never would have been necessary. It
was very apparent that if the Democrats had stood up and main-
tained their rights in the premises, with a bold front, the Repub-
licans would have backed down.
But the result was dreadful. It required all the votes from
Florida; all the votes from Louisiana and South Carolina, and
all the votes from Oregon, to elect Hayes, and that gave him
but one majority. There could be no doubt about it that the
States of Florida and Louisiana had voted for Tilden. There
194 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
could be no doubt that the State of South Carohna ought not to
have been counted at all. And yet, in the face of this plain
election of Tilden, Hayes became President of the United
States. The day after the election Hayes declared that Tilden
was elected. He said, "I don't care so much for myself, but I
am sorry for the poor negro"; and yet in the face of this declara-
tion of Hayes, in the face of fraud and perjury that were re-
sorted to to carry these States for Hayes, and although Tilden
was unquestionably elected President of the United States, he
was not seated.
Bad as it was, it was better than war, as the country had just
emerged from a four years' war. My portion of the country had
been devastated and ruined. The people were just beginning
to recover from the effects of that war. It would have been
more than the Southern country could stand to go through
another, and although we lost, I never regretted the course that
I pursued in favoring an electoral commission as the means of
settling, in peace, the disputed presidential election, and which
I believed would result, and certainly ought to have resulted, in
declaring Tilden President.
Mr. Hoar says in Roger's article, before referred to, that his
course as a member of the Electoral Commission has been
endorsed by many Democrats and that he would be willing to
submit his vindication to the Democratic party. This statement
deserves as much consideration as his statement about Thurman,
Bayard, Kernan and Abbott and no more. I think candid
Republicans all over the country agree that Tilden was fairly
and lawfully elected and should have been inaugurated.
It was very curious after the Electoral Commission counted
the vote of Louisiana for Mr. Hayes, that Mr. Hayes himself
recognized the Democratic Governor of Louisiana. Mr. Tilden
and the Democratic candidate for Governor received exactly
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 195
the same vote, and if the State voted for the Democratic Gover-
nor, it as certainly voted for Mr. Tilden as President, and yet
the Electoral Commission gave the State to Hayes by 8,000, and
the Democratic candidate for Governor was elected by 8,000. But
it was a great relief to those people to get rid of the scalawag
government in Louisiana, and it was one of the advantages
growing out of the Electoral Commission. Soon after this.
Governor Hampton was recognized as the Governor of South
Carolina. In the State of Florida, which was reported to be
2,000 for Mr. Hayes, by the fraudulent certificate of Governor
Stearns, the same majority was given for Drew, the Democratic
candidate for Governor. When the Democratic Electors sued
out their quo warranto to determine whether they or the Hayes
electors were the true electors of the State, the Governor sued out
his quo warranto to test whether he or his competitor, Mr.
Stearns, was the Governor of Florida.
Stearns was the acting Governor, and a candidate for re-
election, and he helped to get up the devilment about the Hayes
electors. The Court of Florida decided that Mr. Drew, the
Democratic candidate, was elected Governor. He was inau-
gurated as such, and served his term, and Florida presented the
curious spectacle of electing a Democratic Governor by a ma-
jority of 2,000, and according to the decision of the commission
giving the same majority, or about the same, to the Hayes elec-
tors. Although we lost Mr. Tilden for our President, the three
States of Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina were rid forever
of carpet-bag, scalawag governments.
N the meantime I had been nominated and elected to Con-
gress for the second time. My competitor for the nomination in
1874 was James Barbour, of Culpeper. He made a very hard
fight for the delegates, and at two or three of the precincts his
friends withdrew from the meeting and sent contesting delega-
tions to the district convention.
When this convention met, there was quite a majority of un-
contested delegates for my nomination. A committee was ap-
pointed to pass upon the contested delegations. My friends were
admitted as the true delegates, and this gave me two-thirds of
the convention, and the nomination.
Before the nomination was made, Mr. James Barbour's friends
by preconcert (as I learned afterward), withdrew from the con-
vention, and Mr. Barbour declared himself an independent can-
didate against me. The contest between us was very warm and
somewhat close. He was warmly supported by Colonel John
S. Mosby, who was in harmony with the Federal administration
of President Grant, and through Colonel Mosby hundreds of
people throughout the district (especially in the County of
Fauquier) were promised office if they would vote for Barbour.
The Republican party and the negro vote were almost solid for
Barbour. Mr. Barbour's brother, John S. Barbour, was president
of the railroad which passed through the district. This road and
its Manassas branch passed through Alexandria, Alexandria
County, Fairfax, Loudoun, Fauquier, Culpeper, Orange and
Warren. By the influence of John S. Barbour, as president of
this road, almost all the employes of the road voted for his
brother, James. Barbour men were given free passes to ride on
ipS AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
the railroad all over the district and electioneer and hurrah
We met in discussion in every county of the district. Mr.
Barbour was a poor stump speaker, and made no capital on
the stump. In his own County of Culpeper there was almost
a reign of terror, and persons were afraid to vote for me; their
business was threatened, their official position was endangered,
and the County of Culpeper gave an overwhelming majority
to Mr. Barbour according to the returns.
Under these circumstances it is very wonderful that I was
elected. My own County of Fauquier, under the influences that
I have just mentioned, became very close, and I carried it by
a small majority. Loudoun County gave me a large majority
of some 1,300 or 1,400. The three Valley counties — Clark, War-
ren and Frederick — gave me over 2,000 majority, and the vote
in the district summed up a majority of 518 for me — 9,809 to
Mr. Barbour talked for some time about contesting my elec-
tion. But for the trouble and expense, I would have been very
glad to have had a contest. I have always felt satisfied that the
large majority reported for him in the County of Culpeper was
not correct, and I wanted to ventilate it, but he finally abandoned
all idea of a contest.
I was again elected in 1876 over J. C. O'Neal, a Republican,
by a vote of 16,660 to 10,175.
A majority of Democrats were elected to the 45th Congress.
As I said before, Samuel }. Randall was the Speaker of the House
in the preceding Congress, and was a candidate for election in
the 45th Congress. He had managed the House so well during
the preceding Congress in the contested election between Tilden
and Hayes that I felt anxious to see him re-elected. There was
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 199
quite a number of members of the House elected to this Con-
gress, and who were in the preceding Congress, that opposed
Mr. Randall because of his tariff views. Mr. Randall was not
a thorough tariff reformer. He was very much opposed to the
Republican tariff, but he was not as much of a reformer as I was,
or as very many members of the House of Representatives were.
Most of these opponents of Mr. Randall, on account of his tariif
views, were anxious to defeat him for the Speakership. They
applied to John Goode, of Virginia, to run against him. Mr.
Goode hesitated to run, and finally wrote a circular letter to his
colleagues from Virginia, Mr. Tucker, Colonel Cabell and my-
self among the number. In this circular letter he asked our
opinion as to whether he should run or not, and stated that he
would not run unless it met the approbation of his colleagues.
It developed that we all replied to the same effect, that we
thought it was impossible that he could be elected, and advised
against his running, but each one of us told him that if he ran
we would vote for him. John T. Harris, the member of Con-
gress from the Valley District, was for Sam Randall over Goode.
After these letters to Mr. Goode, I took it for granted we
should hear no more of his candidacy for the Speakership. I
was in the City of Washington some two or three weeks before
Congress met, and met Mr. Randall in the House of Representa-
tives, no one being on the floor of the House except him and
myself. We had a long and a full conversation. We went
over the proceedings of the last session, which was made famous
by the Presidential contest. He told me that he had submitted
all difficult questions (and some of them were perplexing ones)
to me for solution ; that although Proctor Knott was the Chair-
man of the Judiciary Committee he preferred to be guided by
me, the second man on that Committee, and said he, "in look-
200 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
ing over the fight I am perfectly satisfied with the advice you
gave me on all occasions. I cannot recall an instance in which
I was led astray by your advice."
This was a very high compliment, and I was very much
flattered by it. I said to Mr. Randall that Mr. Goode had talked
about running for Speaker, and told him about the letters we
had written to him. I said, "I suppose that Mr. Goode will not
now be a candidate, but if he is a candidate, Mr. Randall, being
a colleague and a life-long friend, I will feel obliged to vote for
him; but I hope he will not be a candidate, and I think you
deserve a re-election."
Mr, Randall expressed himself as entirely satisfied with my
position. He said he did not see how I could vote against my
own colleague. He said what troubled him most about the
speakership was what to do with John T. Harris, of Virginia.
John T. Harris, as I have said before, was for Mr. Randall over
Mr. Goode. He said, "Mr. Harris wants to go on the Judiciary
Committee. He was Chairman of the Election Committee in
the last House, and I hardly think he is fit for that place; but
I don't feel like I could give him a position on the Judiciary
Committee." He expressed himself as very much embarrassed,
and seemed to wish me to give my views on the matter. I said
to him, "Mr. Randall, I feel that you are in a delicate position
with regard to Mr. Harris. He has declared for you over his
own colleague, and is the only one from Virginia who has so
declared. I agree with you that he is not fit for the position he
has held as Chairman of the Committee on Elections. I certainly
don't think he ought to be put upon the Judiciary Committee,
and I should regret very much to see Mr. Harris put upon that
Committee, to the exclusion of myself."
I told Mr. Randall that I thought the best way out of his
difficulty with Mr. Harris was to keep him where he was, and
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 201
to make him again Chairman of the Committee on Elections.
He acquiesced in this view, and we parted, I went home, and
about a week before the meeting of the House, John Goode, to
the surprise of his friends, opened headquarters in Washington
as a candidate for Speaker. I was satisfied he could not be
elected, but I felt bound to vote for him. I went down to
Washington a day or two before Congress met. Mr. Randall
had his headquarters at the National Hotel. I called to see him
and again explained my position to him; he said it was entirely
satisfactory. The caucus nominated Randall by a large majority.
Congress met on the first Monday in December. Randall was
elected Speaker, and after the usual time taken to make up the
Committees they were announced to the House. To my sur-
prise, and the equal surprise of all my friends, I was taken from
the Judiciary Committee, and John T. Harris put in my place.
I was made third on the District of Columbia Committee, and
second on the Committee to revise the laws in regard to the
election of President of the United States. I was very much
shocked and mortified at my treatment. Mr. Goode as a com-
petitor of the successful candidate for Speaker, under the usage
of the House, was given a good Chairmanship, and while he
gained by his candidacy, he hurt his friends, and especially hurt
me. I thought very hard of Mr. Goode for his course. So did
my friends. I felt that he had pursued a course which helped
him and hurt his friends who supported him against their
A good many of my friends came to me the next day after
the Committees were announced, and asked me what was the
trouble between me and Mr. Randall, and why he had treated
me so. I told them that there was no trouble between us that
I knew of, and recited a good deal of what I have written above.
I never fully forgave Mr. Randall for this treatment. He and
202 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
I had been exceedingly intimate. He had confided in me to the
fullest extent, and made me his adviser instead of Proctor Knott,
the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and I had always
supported him for the Speakership. He visited me in Warren-
ton. I broke ofl friendly relations with him. Soon after the
session began, he gave a dinner and invited me as one of his
guests. I declined to accept the invitation, and told him why.
Although I was thus subordinated in the Committee assign-
ments, I went to work on the Committees to which I had been
assigned, and worked as diligently to promote the business of
those Committees as if they had been the Committees of my
choice. My work was mainly devoted to the Committee on the
District of Columbia. I had no wish to be a member of that
Committee. It was a very troublesome committee of very hard
v/ork, but still a very important committee to the people of
Washington City. The Chairman of the Committee, whose
name I do not now recall, soon died, and Joseph S. C. Black-
burn, of Kentucky, the second on the Committee, became its
The government of the District of Columbia was an uncertain
one. It was at that time in the hands of a governor and council
elected by the people. The appropriations for the benefit of the
District of Columbia were sporadic. Occasionally a good ap-
propriation would be made, and then for several years very
small appropriations. The City was languishing for a better
government, and more constant and equal appropriations.
Colonel Blackburn and myself determined we would make an
effort to change the government of the District, and after a great
deal of labor we formulated the present government. There
were three Commissioners, two of whom were appointed by the
President from civil life, and one detailed from the Engineering
Department of the Army, and they were to be divided between
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 203
the two political parties of the country. It provided that these
Commissioners should annually make out a list of appropria-
tions needed for Washington City. This was to be submitted
to the Secretary of the Treasury, and as far as approved by him
reported to Congress, and the appropriation was to be equally
borne by the people of the District and by the Federal Govern-
ment. We made this distribution of the appropriation because
the Federal government owned about as much property in the
City of Washington as the citizens of the District. The three
commissioners were to be the Governors of the District of
The Committee on the District adopted our plan, and we
reported it to the House. After a long and fierce fight, we
carried our scheme through the House with slight modifications.
It afterwards passed the Senate, was signed by the President,
and became a law.
Under this system of government the City of Washington has
improved year by year, until it has now become the handsomest
city of the continent. Liberal appropriations are made every
year, and only one-half paid by the people of the District. I felt
then, and have felt ever since, that it was the best government
that could be organized for the District, and it has proved to be
so; and I have always felt that Colonel Blackburn and myself
did m.ore in Congress for the people of the District of Columbia
than any two men ever did since the war.
The city at the time we inaugurated this change of govern-
ment, was filled with negroes, most of whom were voters, and
the government of the city was practically in the hands of the
negro voters. Under our system of government the people had
no voice in the government at all. The Constitution of the
United States provided that that portion of the country ceded
to the Government for its capital should be governed by Con-
204 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
gress, and we successfully maintained that Congress, under that
constitutional provision, had a right to govern the District of
Columbia, through these Commissioners. The people of the
District seem to be thoroughly satisfied vv^ith their government,
and well they may be, and I hope that it will never be changed.
N March, 1877, my sister-in-law, the widow of my brother
James, died leaving four sons and one daughter, without any
means of support. Before her death she exacted a promise from
my good wife to take and raise her daughter Bessie Marye Hun-
ton, named after my dear mother. The sons sought and obtained
employment mainly from my brother-in-law. Major Thomas R.
Foster, who had married my sister Mary Brent for his second
wife. He was one of the best of men. On the death of my
sister-in-law, Bessie came to us. My wife and I raised her as
our own daughter. We gave her a fine education. She com-
pleted her education at the Episcopal Institute in Staunton,
presided over by the widow of that splendid and heroic General
of Cavalry, General J. E. B. Stuart. When her education was
completed, Bessie became assistant in the school and formed
a friendship for Mrs. Stuart which will endure as long as they
live. Bessie afterward married Charles Catlett of Staunton, one
of the best of men and husbands. They have two living chil-
dren — the best I ever saw. The youngest died. She was one
of the sweetest children I ever knew. Bessie developed into a
first-rate woman and has amply repaid us for the care and
expense of her maintenance and education. Mr. Catlett is doing
very well in his business as mineralogist. They live comfortably
and happily in their own house in Staunton.
In March, 1877, ^ purchased from Colonel John S. Mosby for
eight thousand dollars a very fine residence on Main Street in
Warrenton, some distance from the Courthouse. I built a fine
woodhouse with two lumber rooms above it, also a barn, stable,
cowhouse and carriage-house all in one building. I owned four
acres in the lot on which this house stood and afterwards added
2o6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
thirteen acres adjoining. It made a charming home and we
Hved for many years there in happiness.
In the summer of 1877 my dear son finished his course at the
the University of Virginia. He graduated in law and other
studies. After he was rested, I took him into co-partnership
under the firm name of Hunton & Son. I paid him for some
time fifty dollars a month. My service in Congress had ruined
my fine practice. Eppa kept together a portion of it, and soon
became a good and popular lawyer.
WAS a candidate for re-election to the 46th Congress. My
nomination was opposed with great vigor by S. Chapman Neale,
of Alexandria. He was a young man of a good deal of spright-
liness, but very little talent. He had command of a large amount
of money, and he spent this money with great freedom in trying
to secure the nomination. It was a hard fight, but when the
convention assembled I had such a decided majority over Neale
that he withdrew from the contest, and I was nominated by
This was the fourth time I was nominated for Congress and
I made up my mind that I would not be a candidate again.
I had not disclosed my intention to anybody — not even to my
wife and son — and when I was sent for to accept the nomina-
tion, I commenced my speech by saying, "For the fourth and
the last time I appear before you to accept your nomination for
Congress." It took the convention by surprise, and I was im-
portuned all over the district to withdraw my declaration. I
declined to do it. My service in Congress, including the term
for which I was just nominated, would be eight years. I had
saved very little money; part of what I had saved I spent in
politics; I felt that the time would come when I would have to
leave politics and go back to my profession, and if I was ever
to go back to my profession, it was time to go.
I had two competitors in the canvass. One was Mr. Cochran,
a Republican in Culpeper. The other was John R. Carter, a
Greenback Democrat in the County of Loudoun, who had been
one of my Captains in the 8th Virginia Regiment during the
war. I carried every precinct in Culpeper against Mr. Cochran.
2o8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
I carried every precinct in Loudoun against Captain Carter. I
only lost three precincts in the whole district. I would not have
lost any, except for the universal belief that my election was
assured, and that there was no necessity for my friends to turn
out. My vote was 5,772 as against 1,119 ^^r Carter and 506
I felt very much gratified that I had gotten to such a stopping
place in politics: elected four times by the best constituency in
the world — three times by overwhelming majorities — and wind-
ing up by carrying every precinct in the district except three.
I felt that I never again could reach a place so suitable for retire-
When Congress convened Samuel J. Randall was again elected
Speaker, and I was made Chairman of the Committee on the
District of Columbia. I worked very hard for the people of the
*Dr. Mason Graham Ellzey, my father's brigade surgeon, in his unpub-
lished book, "The Cause We Lost and the Land We Love," gives the
following account of him in a political campaign:
"Soon after this, General Eppa Hunton was brought out there to
canvass that District (the 9th), and proved to be the most effective man,
and best vote getter who had yet spoken there. He held no joint
debates, but spoke to his own meetings, and the effect of his canvass was
long felt there. He was particularly effective with the popular masses,
the voters who were not office holders nor office seekers.
"The man who has the ear of those people is always the most successful
of vote getters. Virginia had at that time more showy and brilliant men,
but she had no sounder, no truer citizen, nor braver, nor better man, in
all relations of human life. The writer knows well how high an estimate
this is, but he feels that he has had every opportunity to know whereof he
speaks. He has considered well what he is saying, and believes it is
perfectly just and true. He is the author of the sketch of the life and
services of General Hunton, published in General Clement A. Evans'
Encyclopedia war records, at the request of General Evans, and collected
from authentic sources all the facts of his life work, upon which such an
estimate is based."
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 209
District. I found that there were very many people in the Dis-
trict of Columbia, and very many corporations, that were not
paying their taxes. I took the ground in the Committee (and
the Committee sustained me), that no one should come before
the Committee for any purpose, who had not paid his taxes.
The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad owed over $100,000. The
Baltimore and Potomac owed a large sum. Other corporations
were very much in arrears. Mr. Corcoran (as good a man as he
was), was not paying his taxes. Judge Wiley did not pay his.
As soon as the position of the Committee was known, these cor-
porations commenced paying up, and all paid except the Balti-
more and Ohio Railroad. The District government sued the
Baltimore and Ohio and finally made that corporation pay.
I wrote a letter to Judge Wiley, in which I told him that I was
surprised to find that he was not paying his taxes; that he, who
was daily in the habit of enforcing the law upon others, was
daily in the habit of violating it himself by a failure to pay
It was rather an impudent letter to write to a Judge. I
knew him very well. In antebellum days he was at Prince
William Court at a time when there was the first candidate for
President on the Abolition ticket. It was rumored at Prince
William Court that Wiley was a supporter of the candidate for
the Abolition Party, and serious talk was indulged in on the
court green of lynching him. I took him down to my house in
Brentsville, and put him on my horse at my back door and
started him to the depot and saved all trouble. He was very
grateful to me for it ever afterward, and always treated me with
the utmost politeness. The morning after he received my letter
as Chairman of the District Committee, he came down to see
me before breakfast at the Arlington Hotel, where I was board-
ing. He was as mad as he well could be. I expected to have
210 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
trouble with him. He was unquestionably a brave man. He
said, "Why did you write me that letter?" I said, "Because I
thought you deserved it, sir." Then I told him that I felt morti-
fied to think there was a Judge in the District of Columbia, who
was put there to enforce the law, and who was daily in the habit
of violating it. We talked on for a considerable time. His anger
cooled, and he finally said, "I know I am not doing right, but
the truth of it is, I am not able to pay my taxes here without
depriving my family of some of the comforts of life. I have
large property in Chicago, but I cannot sell it. I will try to sell
that property, and as soon as I can sell it I will pay my taxes in
the District of Columbia." I told him that was entirely satis-
factory; and in the course of four or five months he did pay his
taxes. All the people of the District who had declined to pay
their taxes from that time on became regular tax-payers; and
I felt that I had done a big work for the District government.*
*Subsequently my Father supported an assessment-enforcement bill,
which facilitated the District of Columbia in the collection of its taxes.
During his canvass for renomination to Congress in 1878, a man named
Columbus Alexander published a card in which he stated that he found
in Baltimore Sun, Alexandria Gazette, Washington Star and several other
papers a report of a speech made by my father in which he says that my
father made statements about this bill which were untrue, and which he
believes he knew were false when he made them. My father wrote to
Alexander and sent the letter by a friend, and told him he could not find in
the Alexandria Gazette anything like the statements attributed to him by
Alexander in his card, but that his statements were exactly in accord with
the debate as quoted by Alexander from the Congressional Record, and
demanded of Alexander a withdrawal of the offensive language of his card.
Instead of complying with this demand, Alexander published another
equally offensive card. By the law of the District of Columbia, it was a
penitentiary offense to carry a challenge. My father wrote him a letter
telling him this and as Alexander had stated he was a Virginian requested
him to "indicate some place beyond the reach of the District police, where a
demand for reparation which Virginians accord in such cases can be made
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 211
The Engineer Commissioner of the District of Columbia was
a very good man, and he and I planned the filling of the flats
in the Potomac River. It will be recollected that in the middle
of the river under the Long Bridge, and above and below it,
there was a very large marsh which breeded noxious vapors and
injured the health of the City. He and I planned to fill up
this marsh by dredging the bottom of the river, and leaving a
narrow channel on the Washington side, and a wider and
deeper channel on the Virginia side. This great work was not
undertaken while I was in Congress, but it was agitated from
that time until it was finally accomplished some few years ago,
and now that marsh is solid ground. This also is recognized
to be a wonderful improvement for the City of Washington.
I served out that term and retired from politics. During the
whole of my Congressional career my wife had spent each
winter in Washington with me, and was a great comfort to me
then, as at all times during our married life. She was very
popular, especially with the younger people. A right funny
incident occurred on one occasion when she went to Wash-
ington to remain the balance of the winter with me. I had
upon you." This was sent to him by registered mail and he was wired to
call at the post office for a registered letter. Alexander published this
letter and another offensive card. My father published the entire corre-
spondence in a handbill addressed "To the Public" and they were sent
broadcast over the District. This handbill concluded as follows:
"I have given this individual the opportunity to show that he is a gentle-
man and a man of courage, but he has not done me the justice of the one
or been willing to accord me the redress of the other. He refuses to come
from the protection of the police he affects to despise and I can not reach
him without exposing friends to the penitentiary. I therefore proclaim
him a malicious liar, a vulgar blackguard and an irresponsible coward.
The public is assured I shall take no further notice of Columbus Alexander
or any publication from him."
This handbill is reprinted herein in full as Appendix II, p. 253.
212 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
gone down the first of December, and she was to join me after
the Christmas holidays. I had more room in my trunk than
I could fill with my wardrobe, and she put a good many of her
own clothes in, especially some underclothes. The morning
after she reached Washington, as I was going to the House she
asked me for the key to my trunk. When I got back from the
House she laughed and told me that she had been very mad.
She said she went into the trunk and the first thing that met her
vision was a woman's underclothes. She had forgotten entirely
that she had put her own there, and she said she was mad to
find a woman's underclothes in my trunk, but before I got back
she had worked it out and found they were hers.
After I had served my term out, the question was where I
should open an office. I felt satisfied there was not business
enough for my son and myself in Warrenton, and that one of
us must look for business elsewhere.
After careful deliberation and consultation with my wife and
son, I decided that he was to be the lawyer in Virginia and I
would open a law office in Washington. I got a very good prac-
tice, and after the first year formed a partnership with Jeff
Chandler, a very fine lawyer, one of the finest jury lawyers in the
city. Before I formed this partnership, a friend of mine came
to me and asked me if I was willing to become the attorney for
Wm. McGarahan. He had a claim before Congress — a very
large claim — and it had been a good deal talked about. There
was an intimation that it was not a fair claim. I told this friend
I must look into the matter before I gave him an answer whether
I would take the claim or not. I went to Jerry Wilson, a very
prominent lawyer in Washington, who had served one term in
the House with me, from one of the western States. I told him
that I was asked the question whether I would take the case
or not, and that I had hesitated because I was afraid that it was
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 213
not a just claim. I knew he had been counsel for it, and I wanted
him to say whether it was a just claim, and why he gave it up.
He said, "You need not hesitate a moment to go into that case.
It is a perfectly just claim, and I gave it up because I had not
the time to attend to it."
William McGarahan was a merchant in San Francisco, and
he bought a large tract of land in California with a quicksilver
mine on it. It was taken possession of by a company who,
though mere squatters, claimed to have gotten title to it. Their
title was not worth a cent, and McGarahan's title was as good in
equity as any man ever had to a foot of his land. I agreed to
take the case. His claim, if paid by the Government, would
amount to millions, and he agreed to pay me $250,000 if I was
successful with his claim. I worked very hard for it, until I went
to the United States Senate. I got it through the Senate once,
and through the House once, but not during the same Congress.
It passed in an omnibus bill, through both Houses, and Mr.
Cleveland vetoed it, not so much on account of this claim as
for the French Spoilation Claims that were in the same bill.
When I went into the Senate I knew that I would have to take
the "laboring oar" in pushing this claim. I did not want to have
it said by any Senator on the floor that I was speaking for my
own benefit, so I surrendered my contract,
I got it through the Senate twice. The first time it was vetoed
by Mr. Cleveland, as I have said, and the last time it passed the
Senate and was about to be taken up in the House when the
poor old man died. He had no near relatives who would take
the case up. I had no further interest in it, and the claim died.
He was one of the worst treated claimants I have ever known
who had a claim before Congress. He never lost his character
as an honest upright man. He died at the Providence Hospital.
He had sent for me two or three times. I had just returned from
214 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
home and as soon as I heard he was ill, I went to the hospital to
see him. He told me, "Next week my claim will be up in the
House, and it will certainly pass." I said, "Mr. McGarahan, I
presume you want me to do some writing for you." He said,
"Yes, that is what I want with you." I meant to write his will.
I said, "I am ready to do it" ; and he called on one of the nurses
to bring him pen, ink and paper, but before I started to write
for him he lost consciousness, and died in thirty minutes.
Senator Teller was also his warm friend, and before I left the
hospital Senator Teller came in. We sent for an undertaker
and told him to give Mr. McGarahan a decent burial and we
would be responsible for the pay. Before the day of burial came,
his acquaintances and friends in the District of Columbia, and
especially in the two Houses of Congress, came forward and
volunteered to contribute to his burial expenses. Before he was
buried I had enough money in my hands to give him an exceed-
ingly genteel burial and erect a monument over his grave. I
thought it was the finest tribute to the old man's character I
had ever known.
The practice of Chandler and myself became very large and
we v/ere doing a very fine business, which promised to increase
rather than diminish. He was a very peculiar man, but as high
a gentleman as ever lived. During our partnership of three years
or more there never was a cross word between us: there was
never any difference of opinion as to questions, and he deferred
to my legal opinions with great generosity. Our partnership has
never been legally dissolved. In his peculiar style of doing busi-
ness he took himself off to St. Louis, without telling me he was
going, or that he was going to break up the partnership. We
parted on the most friendly terms, and our relations have been
very kindly and intimate ever since.
On the 28th of May, 1892, P. W. McKinney, Governor of Vir-
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 215
ginia, appointed me a Senator to represent, with John W. Daniel,
the State of Virginia in the United States Senate. This was to
fill a vacancy caused by the death of Honorable John S. Barbour.*
*The following newspaper article was written by "Savoyard", which
was the nom de plume of Henry Watterson, Editor of the Louisville
Courier-] ournal. He was a member of Congress during the Tilden and
Hayes contested presidential election and came in close contact with my
Father and pays him this glowing tribute upon his appointment to the
United States Senate:
"There is nobody in Washington who does not hail with delight the
appointment of Gen. Eppa Hunton to the vacancy in the Federal Senate
occasioned by the death of the late Mr. Barbour. Gen. Hunton is a typical
Virginian of the old school. And what a race was that! The Old Domin-
ion gave to the world Washington and Jefferson and Lee. For seventy
years Virginia ideas maintained in the councils of the Nation, The Vir-
ginia gentleman is the gentlest, the bravest, the simplest of human
"Honest and credulous himself, he suspects no guile in others. The
back-bone of the rebellion of seventy-six, the back-bone of the rebellion of
sixty-one, more luster clusters about the name Virginia than any other
name pronounced by Americans. The grand Old Dominion splendidly
illustrates all that her brilliant sons conceived in the couplet:
'The glory that was Greece,
And the grandeur that was Rome.'
Forty years ago Eppa Hunton was the humblest and most modest
struggling young lawyer at the bar of Eastern Virginia. As a boy he had
killed squirrels and trapped rabbits on the ground that was afterward to
become historic as Bull Run's bank and Manassas' Cross Road. He loved
Virginia as the chivalry that fell at Pavia loved France; he loved her sterile
sands as the peasant of Aisne loves the soil of France. When Virginia
cast her fortunes with the South Hunton entered her armies a private, and,
four years later, at Appomattox, he surrendered a Brigadier-General's
commission. In all those four years of blood and iron, whether in the
ranks, or in the field, he was always where duty called him, illustrating the
courage, the fortitude, the heroism of Virginia chivalry, as steadfast as the
most fanatic Puritanism. After all was over he returned to his law office
and began life anew. Soon he was sent to Congress, and that body he
illumined by his splendid intellect and his profound knowledge of the
2i6 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
When I retired from the House of Representatives, John S.
Barbour succeeded me. When he died I succeeded him in the
United States Senate. At the meeting of the legislature of Vir-
ginia following my appointment to the Senate, I was elected to
law. So conspicuous was he for legal attainments that the Democrats
chose him as one of the Electoral Commission; but his sound opinions fell
on deaf ears, organized as the tribunal was to find a fradulent judgment.
Of that commission, composed of eight Republicans and seven Democrats
six Democrats survive and five Republicans are dead.
"It must be consoling to every Republican that the ground of the
opinion declaring Hayes elected was the 'Right' of the States, and it car-
ried the doctrine of 'States Rights' to a length that would have made swim
the head of lohn C. Calhoun and the Breckinridge that drafted the Reso-
lutions of 'Ninety-eight.'
"In the Forty-fourth Congress General Hunton was a member of the
Judiciary Committee and had charge of the investigation of those interest-
ing epistles of Jim the Penman, known as the Mulligan letters. A few
months before Blaine had gained all Southern hearts by defeating the Force
bill, evolved out of the boundless malignity of Ben Butler; but a few weeks
before Blaine had cancelled the obligation by waving the bloody shirt as
no one ever waived it before or since. When the Mulligan letters came
out and Congress set about construing them, Blaine, with an effrontery
that might well have extorted applause from the devil himself, threw off
the role of the culprit and assumed that of the prosecutor, and in John
Gilpin style he played it. Congress sat staring like a stuck pig while
Blaine read it and its Judiciary Committee a lecture on honesty, morality
and decency. This was the scene or one of the scenes. Bob IngersoU had
in his fancy when he spoke of plumed Knights and shining lances and
things in the Cincinnati convention of 1876 just before the lights went out.
But there was one calm, sedate, imperturbable lawyer on the Judiciary
Committee that Blaine's bluster and bullying operated on as a sprinkle
on a duck's back. He rose as soon as Blaine concluded and in a few plain,
blunt, simple sentences gave the House a piece of his mind that convinced
it there was something rotten in Denmark and made it necessary for
Blaine to have a sunstroke next day. That grim old lawyer was Eppa
Hunton, and he has raised the standard of the United States Senate in
both manhood and intellectuality. May he be in the councils of the nation
many years to come.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 217
fill out the unexpired term of Mr. Barbour. This legislature also
elected the Senator for the long term. I was unanimously
elected to fill out Mr. Barbour's term, which expired March 3,
1895, and Thomas S. Martin was nominated and elected to
I was not a candidate for the long term when the caucus met.
I had been a candidate with General Fitzhugh Lee and Thomas
S. Martin. My son was in the legislature and conducted my
canvass. Of course it was conducted upon the highest plane.
He became satisfied that I would not be nominated, and with
my approbation withdrew me from the contest, believing at that
time that General Lee would be nominated.
It was a curious condition of affairs which exhibited so much
strength for Thomas S. Martin in the legislature of Virginia.
He was absolutely unknown to the people at large. He had
been a railroad lobbyist in Richmond every winter for many
years, and in that way became very well known to, and popular
with members of the legislature. I heard a gentleman say that
he was discussing Tom Martin's popularity with a friend of
Mr. Martin's, in one of the towns of the State, and he said:
"Tom Martin isn't known. The representative from this city
voted for him and he hasn't five constituents who know who
Tom Martin is." Martin's friend denied it, and they agreed to
take a position on the most frequented thoroughfare of the city,
and test which was right — as to that city. Large numbers of
the citizens passed by, and they asked each one, "What do you
think of the nomination of Thomas S. Martin for the Senate" —
and the reply was unvarying, "Who is Tom Martin ? I never
heard of him."
Martin was running for the Senate against General Fitzhugh
Lee, the nephew of General Robert E. Lee, who had been Gov-
ernor of Virginia, and a very popular one, and was one of the
2i8 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
most popular of the Major-Generals of the Confederate Army
in the cavalry arm. It was very curious that Thomas S. Martin
should be selected for the United States Senate over Fitzhugh
Lee. I believe he v^^as nominated in caucus by a majority of only
one. T. C. Pilcher, of my own County of Fauquier, was very
warmly for me, until my withdrawal. After I was withdrawn,
my friends continued their separate organization, every one of
them being supposed to be for Fitzhugh Lee after I retired.
Among them was this T. C. Pilcher. He created the impression
with all of them that after my withdrawal he was for Fitzhugh
Lee; and carried messages to different parties about the canvass
of Fitz Lee. To the amazement and indignation of my friends,
Pilcher voted for the nomination of Martin. He was at once
denounced as a traitor by General William H. Payne and Colo-
nel Thomas Smith, of the County of Fauquier, who were in
Richmond primarily in my interest, but after my withdrawal
were earnest advocates of the election of Fitzhugh Lee.
Colonel J. C. Gibson, who represented the County of Cul-
peper, was instructed to vote for me, and did support me up to
the time of my withdrawal. It was thoroughly understood by
the friends of Fitzhugh Lee and myself that after my with-
drav/al Colonel Gibson was for General Lee. To the surprise
of the friends of General Lee, Colonel Gibson, when his name
was called in caucus, refused to vote.
I might give other and stronger reasons to show how it was
that Tom Martin beat Fitz Lee; but I forbear.
Soon after my appointment to the Senate, in May, 1892,
Grover Cleveland was nominated as the Democratic candidate
for the Presidency. He had been elected in 1884; was defeated
in 1888, and again nominated in 1892. Harrison was the
Republican President, and nominee for re-election. It was a
very earnest party conflict between these two men. Cleveland
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 219
was elected and inaugurated on the 4th of March, 1893. At that
time the Democrats had the Presidency and a majority in both
Houses of Congress. This was the first time it had happened
since the war. In the first administration of Cleveland the
Senate was Republican.
When the Democratic Congress met in December, 1893, there
existed a most villainous tariff law; protective duties ranged
from fifty to one hundred per cent. Mr. Cleveland was a good
tariff reformer, and his message to the two Houses of Congress
took very strong ground in favor of tariff reform. The bill had
to originate in the House, as all revenue measures do, and Wil-
liam L. Wilson, of West Virginia, Chairman of the Committee
on Ways and Means of the House, had charge of the tariff bill
in that House.
William L. Wilson was one of the best men I ever met in
public life — pure, upright and able. He was not fitted for party
leadership. He was more on the order of a professor and
obtained the right position for himself after he left Congress,
to-wit. President of Washington and Lee University, which he
filled until his death.
He, as Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, re-
ported to the House of Representatives a very good tariff bill
and after a very protracted fight the House passed the Wilson
tariff law very much as reported from the Committee. The
House had a large majority of Democrats, and they were all
good tariff reformers.
When this bill came over to the Senate and was referred to the
Finance Committee of that body, it very soon became apparent
that we could not unite the Democratic majority of the Senate
for that bill. It was soon made to appear that if that bill was
not changed, it could not pass the Senate. Very soon after the
bill came to the Senate, John G. Carlisle, of Kentucky, formerly
220 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Speaker of the House, afterwards United States Senator, and
then Secretary of the Treasury under Mr. Cleveland, wrote to
the Chairman of the Committee on Finance (Mr. Vorhees of
Indiana) stating that the Wilson Bill as it had passed the House
would not support the Government, and changes in the bill must
be made. The Committee of the Senate went to work upon it
and finally reported the bill with a great many amendments to
the Senate. It was not a very good tarii? bill as reported by the
Senate Committee. It did not suit real tariff reformers. It did
not suit me, who learned my tariff views from James K. Polk,
and Robert J. Walker. It was found that the Democrats were
not a unit for this bill, as reported by the Senate Committee, and
without amendments it could not go through the Senate. I felt
in deep distress over it. I thought if the Democrats could not
pass a tariff bill when they had both Houses of Congress and the
Presidency, that there was very little use in working for a
Democratic victory. I felt that we could not go before the
country and ask for a Democratic victory in the face of a failure
to pass a tariff reform bill.
In this condition of affairs in the Senate, Arthur P. Gorman,
Senator from Maryland, the leader of the Democratic majority
on the floor of the Senate, and Chairman of the Democratic
Caucus, called a meeting of the Democrats of the Senate in
caucus. When this caucus met Mr. Gorman called someone to
the Chair and addressed the Democrats of the Senate. He was,
like myself, very much distressed at the idea of a failure to
pass a tariff reform bill. He was not as good a tariff reformer
as I, but still he was very earnestly in favor of reforming the
existing tariff law. He deplored, as I did, the divisions in the
Democratic party, and he said there was but one way to pass a
tariff reform bill, and that way he had embodied in a resolu-
tion, which he read. This resolution pledged each member of
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 221
the caucus to support any amendment that the Democrats of the
Finance Committee might offer, and to vote against any amend-
ments which that majority opposed. In this way, if the Demo-
crats would unite, we would get a tariff bill — probably not such
as all of us would like, but very much better than the one in
This resolution was adopted by the Democratic caucus. I
voted for it with pleasure, because I could follow the Democrats
on the Finance Committee, who were pretty near as good tariff
reformers as I claimed to be. They were Jones, of Arkansas;
Harris, of Tennessee, and Vorhees, of Indiana, last named
While we were fighting hard for union upon the tariff in the
Senate, I was amazed one morning to find in the papers a letter
from Grover Cleveland, the President, to William L. Wilson,
Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House.
In this letter he denounced the Democrats of the Senate as guilty
of treachery to the Democratic Party because they would not
pass the Wilson tariff bill without amendment. I was very
indignant when I read this letter. Most of the Democrats of
the Senate were as good tariff reformers as Grover Cleveland.
I was a tariff reformer when Grover Cleveland hardly knew
what a tariff was. I considered his letter to Wilson the greatest
outrage that ever was perpetrated by a Democratic President
upon his Party in a co-ordinate branch of the government. This
letter denounced the Democrats of the Senate because they did
not pass the Wilson bill without amendment, when his own
Secretary of the Treasury had informed the Finance Committee
that it must be changed or there would not be revenue enough to
support the government. Notwithstanding the indignation that
followed the publication of Cleveland's letter to Wilson, the
Democrats labored very hard to get through a tariff bill at least
222 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
fairly good. The Democrats of the Senate Hved up to the Gor-
man resolution in the caucus. They followed these well-known
tariff reformers of the Finance Committee, and after a fight last-
ing for months the Senate passed the bill loaded down with
amendments adopted by the Senate. These amendments had
to be adopted in order to get the bill through the Senate. It
then went back to the House of Representatives. The House
refused to concur in the amendments of the Senate; conference
committees were appointed by the two Houses, and after a con-
ference between these two committees lasting for a month, a
tariff bill was agreed upon and adopted by both Houses of Con-
gress and signed by the President.
This tariff law, as I have said before, was not what I would
like to have had it, but it was the very best that could be passed
at the time. It went into operation and proved to be a first-rate
tariff law. The revenues under it proved to be sufficient for the
government, and the protection of American manufacturers at
the expense of the people was very much diminished. It re-
mained in operation until the Republicans obtained control of
the government and was replaced by what is known as the
"Dingley Tariff Bill" — which, with some modifications, is in
operation now (1904).
The only other question of very great interest that came up in
the Senate during my time of service was the currency. Under
the law in existence then (known as the Sherman law) Con-
gress had to purchase and coin a certain quantity of silver every
year. The question came up in the Senate of repealing the pur-
chasing clause of that bill. I was at that time, always had been,
and am now, a free silver man. I was opposed to repealing this
clause in the Sherman Bill, but was assured by Vorhees, from
the Finance Committee, that if that was repealed there would
be at once introduced from that Committee into the Senate a
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 223
bill for the free coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to i. Under
this assurance I voted to repeal the purchasing clause of the
Sherman law; but the free silver bill promised by Vorhees was
not reported, and was of course never acted on.
This brought about the fight for free silver in the next
Democratic Convention to nominate a candidate for the Presi-
dency. The convention was apparently controlled by the old
leaders who were opposed to the free and unlimited coinage of
silver at the ratio of 16 to i. William J. Bryan, who had been
a member of the House of Representatives from Nebraska, and
made the leading speech in the House in favor of the Wilson
tariff bill, was a member of the Democratic convention that as-
sembled in 1896. He was an ardent, earnest and honest advocate
for the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the ratio of 16 to i.
He took the floor in behalf of his doctrine as a part of the plat-
form of his party ; carried the convention with him almost like
a whirlwind, and free silver became the leading feature of the
But this was after I left the Senate. My term of service in
the Senate expired on the 4th of March, 1895. Cleveland con-
tinued to make himself very disagreeable to his Party, and
divided it. John G. Carlisle, who had been the most thorough-
going advocate for free silver in all the land, was made, as a
member of Cleveland's Cabinet, to take violent ground against
free silver. Cleveland took ground against it. Almost all of his
Cabinet took ground against it. The Democratic Party of the
country seemed to be for it, but by reason of the division created
by the conduct of Cleveland and his Cabinet the Democratic
prospect in the country did not seem to be as bright as we had
hoped it would be.
Mr. Cleveland was a man of very great ability. I think he was
a thoroughly honest man. But he was the most obstinate man
224 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
I ever encountered. A man had to go his way, or part company.
There was no compromise in his spirit. His pohcy was "Rule
or Ruin." This had not developed fully until his second admin-
istration, but it was woeful during his second term, and caused
such a division in the Democratic Party that Bryan, who seemed
to be the idol of the people, was defeated for the Presidency, and
McKinley, of Ohio, was elected.*
*The following glowing and splendid tribute to my father, published
in Virginia newspapers when his term in the Senate ended, was written
by his life-long friend General William H. Payne, my father-in-law:
General Eppa Hunton
"The Old Order Changeth, Yielding Place to the New."
Editor Times: By the retirement of General Eppa Hunton today the
country, by the concurrent testimony of his colleagues, loses the services of
one of its most useful Senators, and the State of Virginia parts with one
of her truest, bravest, wisest sons. From his advent into public life, now
more than twenty years ago, General Hunton has been a commanding
figure. On entering Congress when Grant was on the throne and Blaine
was in the Speaker's chair, his practical wisdom, rugged force and domi-
nating will, his iron tenacity and dauntless courage won the confidence
of his associates and impressed his strong personality upon all who were
thrown in contact with him. Soon after his entrance into the lower
house, he a Confederate soldier, with the blood of battle hardly dry upon
his garments, was placed upon the Military Committee, composed of
officers against whom he had been but recently fighting. It is authentic
tradition in Washington that before the first session had passed the chair-
man of that committee pronounced him the fairest, the frankest, the most
industrious and useful member upon it. When the country was brought
to the verge of civil, not sectional, war, when the crisis was so imminent
and the prospect of conflict so appalling that stump orators, "Leading
editors," political traders and all the vermin that infest peaceful politics,
either cowered from sight or were impatiently swept by an alarmed nation
into obscurity, this man, this Confederate soldier, was selected as one in
whose hands could be trusted the peace of a continent, the honor of a
party and the disposition of a crown.
"His rise to the Senate v^as not less honorable, and his career there has
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 225
been not less creditable and useful than it was in the lower house. The
same stainless integrity, sound judgment, blunt honesty and veracity of
character won from his new associates the same respect which had been be-
stowed by his old colleagues of the House. In Virginia we have all looked
upon this gentleman as a 'man to tie to.' He never failed a friend or
shrunk from a foe. No unclean money has ever been suspected of cling-
ing to his hands. The vile spectre, calumny, which haunts so many lives,
has never soiled his name. He never traded in politics or sought office by
"Whatever he would highly
that he would holily."
"Place my candidacy on the highest plane and keep it there," was his
message to his son when, for the first time in Virginia's history, a shadow
hung over a senatorial election. The retirement of such a man from
public life is an event to be felt and should be noticed. When Cornelia
counts her jewels, one of her purest should not be omitted from the shin-
ing circle. He is one of her sons who has never brought a blush to the
cheek nor a pang to the heart of the mother he loved and served so well.
The gray-haired veterans who toiled and fought and suffered for Virginia
are well aware that —
"Some perter age
Has come tittering on to shove
them from the stage."
May we when we come to "bow and walk beyond the stars" leave this
theatre as Hunton does, with all
"That should accompany old age,
As honor, love, obedience, troops
A Friend and Comrade.
(March 4, 1895) (W. H. Payne.)
The telegram from my father to me is not quoted by General Payne in
full. It was as follows:
"Place my candidacy on the highest plane and keep it there. Do
nothing which can ever bring a blush of shame to your cheek."
On April 30th, 1898, when my father was 76 years old, he wrote to
President McKinley, his friend and whose counsel he had been before a
226 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Democratic House when his seat was contested, the following letter tend-
ering his services to his country in the pending war with Spain:
"37 Corcoran Building,
Washington, D. C, April 30, 1898.
President of the United States.
I am anxious to render service to my country in the pending war with
Spain. My age probably unfits me for duty in the field, but I may be able
to render other service equally valuable. You know me well and can de-
termine if my services are needed. They are cordially tendered.
Yours very respectfully,
To which he received the following reply:
May 2, 1898.
My dear Sir:
Your favor of the 30th ultimo has been received and the President has
read it with pleasure.
Permit me to assure you that the President appreciates highly your cor-
dial and patriotic tender of services and will be very glad to bear it in
With respect and esteem, believe me,
Very truly yours,
John Addison Porter,
Secretary to the President.
Hon. Eppa Hunton,
37 Corcoran Building,
Washington, D. C."
Taken at the time this Autobiography was being written. Age 82.
Y son continued to grow in his profession, and in 1884
he felt able to support a wife. In November of that year he
married Erva Winston Payne, the oldest daughter of General
William H. Payne. This was an exceedingly agreeable mar-
riage on both sides. General Payne and myself had always
been the most intimate friends, and this connection between our
families was most agreeable to each of us. They lived with me
almost all of their married life. I loved her dearly as my
daughter, and so did my wife, and she was as affectionate to
both of us as if she were our own child. She was one of the
most brilliant women of her day. She was splendidly educated
at Hochelaga Convent, Montreal, Canada; spoke French very
fluently, was a beautiful musician, and had a lovely voice. She
played on the harp and the piano, and sang beautifully. Unfor-
tunately her health was poor. She scarcely saw a well month
from the time she was married. She and Eppa were devoted
to each other, and he was the most attentive husband to a sick
wife I ever saw. He never tired in his attentions to her; never
failed to do anything that could be suggested to restore her
health ; he took her to all the Springs in Virginia ; to a hospital
in Baltimore, and to Narragansett Pier, Rhode Island. She made
friends wherever she went. At Narrangansett for one or two
years she met Mrs. Jefferson Davis, who became devoted to her.
Tliey went to housekeeping after living with us for ten or
twelve years, and fitted up a beautiful little establishment next
to General Payne's; but Erva's health became worse. She went
to Narragansett and there her health failed very perceptibly.
Eppa was scarcely able to get her home where she lingered
awhile and died October 9, 1897.
228 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
I never saw such attention as was paid to her while living,
or so much respect to the dead. The largest concourse attended
her funeral that had been seen in Warrenton since the war.
The flowers sent had to be transported to the cemetery in wagons.
Eppa was almost heart-broken by her death, and for months
could hardly be aroused. I was afraid at one time that he could
not be gotten back to his professional work. My wife and myself
were perfectly devoted to Erva, and she to us, and we felt the
loss as if she had been our own child. Our Episcopal rector,
Rev. George W. Nelson, one of the best and noblest of men, was
thoroughly devoted to her. He wrote her obituary, and I beg
to speak of her by an extract from that obituary, which I very
fully and cordially endorse:
"Beautiful in person; beautiful in mind; beautiful in heart;
Heavenly 'treasure in an earthen vessel' — but the vessel was
beautifully moulded and polished. She had faithfully cultivated
her extraordinary talents, so that she was as a rare gem in an
exquisite setting. Her voice was one of the sweetest ever heard;
her conversation always had the charm of music, and her pure,
rich soprano was the finest I ever heard in song. It was a
delight to listen to her in our little church, where (whenever
able), she loved to sing the songs of Zion. Mrs. Jefferson Davis,
upon hearing of her death, wrote, 'It seems to me that even the
music of Heaven must be sweeter for Erva's voice.'
"When twenty-three years old she married the man of her
choice — choice of her heart and of her mind — thirteen years have
passed, making and closing a record of wedded life for which
this poor world of ours is surely richer.
"Her health soon became poor; to the day of her death she
was a great sufferer, with intervals of comparative ease and
health; in these intervals she shone out marvelously, charming
all she was thrown with ; and to those who knew her intimately,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 229
disclosing unmistakably the higher work of the divine hand,
the Father perfecting through suffering His gifted and beloved
child. It is natural in sickness and in pain to be absorbed in
self, but she seemed to become more and more unselfish ; alw^ays
thinking of others and for others; striving to give pleasure and
to help; her smile and gracious v^^ord, and helping hand v^^ere
ready for all."
Her death seemed to create a void in our family. My son
broke up housekeeping and came back to us, but he seemed
unable to rally, and still staggered under his great loss.
The health of my wife had been failing for some time. Her
efforts to discharge her duties as a Senator's v^^ife were too
onerous for her. She undertook to entertain in Washington,
and it was more than she could endure. I procured the best
medical advice in Washington City, and the best in Fauquier.
The doctors did not seem to know what was the exact trouble
in her case. They persuaded me to take her to the seashore,
and in 1896 I took her to Cape May. The trip was as much
as she could stand. The stay at Cape May did not improve her
perceptibly. I determined that I would stop (on my return)
in Philadelphia, and get the best medical advice I could, and
I consulted Dr. Weir Mitchell and Dr. DaCosta. They gave
her the most careful examination for two successive days. I do
not think they formed a decided opinion as to her disease, and
she received no decided benefit from their treatment.
The next year, 1897, ^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^ '^he Hot Springs, in Virginia,
and there I met Dr. DaCosta, who practiced on her there. In
the winter of 1898 I persuaded her to go to Washington and
spend the winter there, and we were made very comfortable at
the Ebbitt House. Her physician in Washington was Dr. Z. T.
Sowers. In February, 1899, while we were at the Ebbitt House,
we had the terrific blizzard, but we were very comfortable. The
230 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Ebbitt House was warm, and the landlord and the servants as
kind and good to us as it was possible for them to be.
Dr. Sowers became very uneasy about my wife, and very
anxious that she should get home; and early in the spring I
procured a private car and with great difficulty got her into it and
took her to Warrenton. After getting her home she rallied con-
siderably, and I felt hopeful that she might get well.
She was very much gratified that I joined the church in 1899.
I was baptized by our rector, dear Mr. George Washington
Nelson, and confirmed by Bishop Gibson. I was anxious to
have my adopted daughter Bessie, and my son, and my wife,
as witnesses at my baptism. Bessie came over a day or two
before, but Eppa was engaged in the trial of two important will
cases in Harrisonburg. I was satisfied that he would not be
able to get home, and was very much concerned at not having
him there, but Saturday night he finished the argument of his
cases, won them both, and at nine o'clock jumped into a buggy
and drove to Staunton, twenty-odd miles; took the cars in
Staunton at one o'clock A. M., reached Warrenton Junction
about sun-rise, hired a buggy, and was home to breakfast, and
my wife and my two children witnessed my baptism, and were
present at my confirmation.
I was a little surprised that my wife was able to go through
the service, but she did. She, however, remained quite delicate
until the fall of the year, when it became evident that I would
have to give up my wife, and on the 4th day of September,
1899, she left her happy home in Warrenton, for a happier home
in Heaven. ^
No man ever had a better, more faithful and affectionate wife.
She had a right hard life of it, especially during the war. I felt
very much gratified at a conversation we had not long before
her death. I said to her that I did not recall that she had ever
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 231
expressed a wish that I did not gratify, except during the war.
She thought a moment, and said, "You need not except the
war" — and that speech of hers has afforded me great comfort
ever since her death. But during the war her Ufe was a very
hard one. I was all the time at the front and in all the fights.
Our home was in the enemy's territory the second year of the
war, and was destroyed, and she and my son were moved about
from place to place during the three remaining years of the war —
toward the last of the war dependent upon rations for a living.
She and I were both very anxious for Eppa to marry again.
She did not want him to marry for two years after the death of
Erva. It looked very much for a long time as if he would never
marry again, but in 190 1 he married his present wife, Virginia
Semmes Payne, a sister of Erva.
This was a most agreeable match to me. His mother was
gone, and Eppa and myself lived together in our home at War-
renton, my sister, Mrs. Foster, being with us most of the time.
I was perfectly delighted when he told me that he was going
to be married to Virginia Payne. Of course I had known her
most intimately as the sister of my daughter Erva, and knew
her to be one of the sweetest girls in the country, and it was alto-
gether a most agreeable announcement. The year Eppa was
married to Virginia Payne, April 24, 1901, he was a candidate
for the Consitutional Convention. He had a very stiff fight
for the nomination with James P. Jeflress, but wound up with
a triumphant majority, and soon after his marriage he came
to Richmond to attend the Convention.
He stood very high in the Convention; was given the best
position on committees by Mr. John Goode, the President of the
Convention, and made a great deal of reputation as the Chair-
man of the Judiciary Committee. While he was a member of
the Convention Mr. E. Randolph Williams and Mr. Henry W.
232 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Anderson came to him and proposed a partnership in the prac-
tice of law in Richmond, of which Mr. B. B. Munford was also
to be a member. Eppa would not give them an answer until he
had consulted with me. He came home and laid the matter
before me, and I said to him, "Have you given up all idea of
politics?" He said, "Yes, absolutely." "Then," I said, "you
may form a law partnership in Richmond; but if you mean to
go into politics, Warrenton is a better place for you than Rich-
mond." He said he had no idea of going into politics. Then
he said, "Will you go with me to Richmond?" I said that was
another matter. He said, "Well, unless you go with me to Rich-
mond, I will not consider the proposition."
It was a right sore thing to me to give up my home in Warren-
ton, where I had lived in happy married life for twenty-five or
thirty years. It was still harder for me to break up what I con-
sidered a brilliant partnership for my son. The practice in
Fauquier and the surrounding country was very small, very few
large cases, and although Eppa made a right large income every
year, it was by going some distance from home into the sur-
rounding country. I felt that it would be to his interest to go to
the City of Richmond, and I agreed to go with him. I sold my
property in Warrenton for $10,000, and turned the money over
to Eppa to help him buy a home in Richmond. We rented at
316 East Grace Street until my son bought and fixed up the
house in which we live now. No. 8 East Franklin Street.
I have been living with my son and his wife since they were
married. His wife Virginia is to me a daughter as affectionate,
kind and good as if she were my own flesh and blood. There is
nothing she will not do to promote my comfort; no trouble she
will not take that is necessary for my happiness. She has fine
sense and fine taste. She has fitted up our new home very beau-
tifully. I feel greatly blessed in having such a son and such a
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 233
daughter. I have never ceased to miss my dear wife, but if good
children can atone for the loss of a wife, mine come as near to it
as children can come.
July 5, 1902, my daughter presented to husband and father
a beautiful daughter. My daughter was very, very ill and the
dear little child after being baptized and christened Mary
Winter, died. The death of the child was a great blow and
caused much grief to us all, but especially to its mother. It was
the only grandchild I ever had, and I was very proud to have
one. God loaned the dear baby to us for a brief time then took
her to Himself to be an angel in Heaven. I strive to meet her,
dear Lucy and dear Erva there. I have not despaired of other
grandchildren, and pray they may live to comfort their parents,
as mine have comforted me.
Eppa's firm is doing a splendid business in Richmond and
surrounding country. The partnership has proven even more
brilliant than was anticipated. The firm gets as much business
as its members can attend to and the income is large and satis-
factory — Eppa stands so very high both as a lawyer and gentle-
man. No one in Richmond stands higher. The move to Rich-
mond was very judicious. I fear he has more work than he can
stand and that his health will fail. At present time he looks
well and seems to be in good health.
My health is very good for my age. When I came to Rich-
mond I was subject to spells of vertigo. I had them two or three
times a week. If I could not sit down or lie down, I fell down.
I had been to all the doctors up in my country, to Dr. Sowers,
and Dr. Johnson, of Washington; Dr. Hicks and Dr. Frost,
of Fauquier. They did me no good. When I came to Richmond
I put myself under the care of Dr. George Ben Johnston. He
gave me a most careful examination, and said, "I will either
cure you of these attacks, or I will greatly modify them." I
234 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
have not had one since February, 1902, and since I have gotten
rid of these attacks of vertigo my health has been remarkably
good, for a man in his 82nd year.
I am doing no work nov/, except to give some attention to a
iew old cases I have in Washington. If I live, I think I vi^ill wind
them up this year, and then I will have nothing to do except to
prepare for, and await my summons to another world. We have
a beautiful home fitted up by my dear daughter, who has de-
veloped into a splendid housekeeper. We live in great happi-
ness and I try to be sufficiently grateful for the blessings of the
best children man ever had. God bless and prosper them and
save them in Heaven at last.
Made in my 83rd year, September 28, 1905.
Since my biography was closed, my dear daughter presented to
her husband and me, on 31st July, 1904, a dear little "man-child."
I was in Warrenton when this happy event occurred. I came at
once to Richmond to see the dear little stranger and found him all
I could desire. He was at once named Eppa IV, and was after-
wards so christened in St. James' Church, Warrenton, by Bishop
Randolph, assisted by Mr. Laird, the Rector.
In this dear old church his two grandmothers were members, his
father and mother confirmed, and his grandfather baptized and con-
firmed. It was the proper place for baptism of Eppa IV.
When I came to Richmond to see him a few days after his birth,
I presented him with my handsome gold watch which was given
to me by Eppa and dear Erva. I made a most eloquent presentation
speech, which was received without applause from him.
I hope he will grow to be a good and great man and reflect credit
on the name he bears. I hope he will always love and defend the
Confederate cause for which his grandfathers fought and bled. I
hope he will avoid the use of profane language, gambling and intem-
perate use of intoxicants, and be in all respects as good a man as
his father is.
God bless and prosper my dear little grandson.
Address of General Eppa Hunton at the First Reunion of the
8th Virginia Regiment after the War, at Leesburg, the 2ist Octo-
ber, 1895, the 34TH Anniversary of the Battle of Ball's Bluff:
My dear Comrades —
Survivors of the 8th Virginia Infantry —
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thirty-four years ago, early in May, 1861, I was commissioned by
His Excellency, John Letcher, Governor of Virginia, Colonel of the
8th Regiment, and ordered to Leesburg to organize it.
I entered at once on this duty, and appropriated what was then
the fair grounds just north of the town, as my camp. It was com-
posed of six companies from Loudoun, commanded by Capt. Heaton,
Capt. Berkeley, Capt. Wampler, Capt. Simpson, Capt. Grayson and
Capt. Hampton, two from Fauquier commanded by Capt. Carter
and Capt. Scott; one from Fairfax commanded by Capt. Thrift;
one from Prince William commanded by Capt. Berkeley.
All of us were more or less green in the organization of a regi-
ment, but it was soon apparent that the 8th Regiment — rank and
file — was composed of the very best material in the State.
I was warmly supported by all the officers and soon had a regiment
of splendid soldiers, commanded by intelligent and gallant officers
of the line — Charles B. Tebbs was Lieutenant-Colonel and Norborne
Berkeley was Major, both of Loudoun,
The main duty of the regiment (aided by Capt. Shreve's company
of cavalry and Capt. Rogers' battery) was to guard the Potomac, up
to the first battle of Manassas. This was the bloody baptism of the
regiment. Its behavior was conspicuous for gallantry, and was
especially mentioned and compHmented by Gen. Beauregard in his
report of that glorious battle. This was the 21st of July, '61. Two
days after, it was ordered back to Leesburg to guard this grand old
240 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
county from the ravages of the enemy. Soon after we were rein-
forced by three Mississippi regiments and several companies of
cavalry — all under command of Gen. Evans.
I became disabled and was sent to my mother's home in Fauquier,
on a bed in a spring wagon. After a short stay there, and before I
was fit for duty, I became satisfied there was a battle impending, and
against the protests of wife, son, mother and friends, I started back
to my beloved regiment. I found it encamped in what was then
Dr. Clagett's triangular field. They all knew a battle was at hand,
and I shall never forget the joy with which I was received by officers
and men, and how glad they seemed to be that I was to be with them
and to lead them in the approaching fight. Their devotion to and
confidence in me, brought tears to my eyes. I resolved then and
there, that by the help of God I would fulfill the expectations of these
We have met here today on the 21st of October in our first reunion
to commemorate the 34th anniversary of that battle.
I was ordered first to Goose Creek Bridge to meet a body of the
enemy advancing up the pike. It was soon apparent that this was a
reconnoitering party and did not mean an attack. In the meantime
the enemy in strong force under Gen. Baker was crossing at Harri-
son's Island to Ball's Bluff, opposite to and about three miles from
Leesburg. I was ordered to leave one company, commanded by
the gallant Capt. Wampler, to guard the bridge and go at once to
meet the enemy at Ball's Bluff. The enemy's force across the river
was reported by Gen. Evans to be eight thousand strong, and con-
sisted mainly of Massachusetts men.
On our side we had the 17th and i8th Mississippi, commanded by
Colonels Burt and Featherstone, and the 8th Virginia Infantry, some
cavalry under Lieut. Col. Jennifer, and two batteries of artillery.
The artillery was not engaged and but little fighting was done by
the cavalry. So that the fight fell largely on the 8th Virginia and
the two Mississippi Regiments. The 8th had 400 men engaged and
the total number on our side was 1,700.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 241
The 1 8th Mississippi was ambuscaded in the beginning of the fight
and driven back with very heavy loss, including CoL Burt, their
The 8th took position in the edge of a wood. The enemy was
posted across a small piece of open land also in a body of woods, with
several pieces of artillery in the open field near the enemy's line. They
charged us several times, but each charge was gallantly repulsed by
the 8th Regiment. The fight lasted several hours. Baker fell mor-
tally wounded. Your ammunition was about exhausted and several
efforts to secure more were ineffectual. I determined to charge the
enemy and by dividing up the cartridges, each man had one round.
The charge, mainly with the bayonet, was as gallant as any made
in the war. The 8th was a little later on reinforced by Col. Feather-
stone of the 17th Mississippi. This Regiment also behaved with
great gallantry. The enemy was completely routed and thoroughly
demoralized. They were driven from the field and down the Bluff
to the banks of the Potomac. Darkness stopped the fight, I was
perfectly prostrated by the day's fight and my infirmity. I had to be
hauled from the field in a wagon.
After the fighting had ceased and the enemy were thought to have
retired across the river, Lieut. Charles F. Berkeley was put in com-
mand of a picket of seventeen men of the 8th Virginia regiment,
to picket the battlefield and E. V. White was requested to remain
with him. The 17th and i8th Mississippi regiments had been sent
back to their camps and the 8th Virginia regiment sent to Fort Evans.
Lieuts. Berkeley and White were succouring the wounded when
they discovered some 1,500 Yankees under the bluf? between the bank
of the river and the foot of the bluff, who were crossing back to the
island by two large boats and two smaller ones. Lieut. White was
dispatched to the 8th regiment for 100 men to capture this force,
and on reaching Fort Evans found Lieut. Col. Tebbs in command,
I having been sent to town suffering greatly. Upon preferring the
request to Lieut. Col. Tebbs for 100 men, the latter refused to order
the men on such an expedition, as they had been exposed to such
242 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
a terrible strain as to be completely broken down, but consented to
let any go who should volunteer. Upon this forty-eight men and
three officers under Capts. W. N. Berkeley and Edmund Berkeley,
were conducted by E. V. White down to the Bluff, with orders at a
given signal to fire their guns in the air, while the main body, led
by E. V. White, should descend and mix with the enemy below and
call on them to surrender. This was accordingly carried out and
when some of the enemy inquired to whom they should surrender,
they were told Gen. White was in command. The number of
prisoners taken on this occasion was about 400 and was effected
entirely by E. V. White, and the officers and men of the 8th Virginia
regiment. This same E. V. White who displayed so much gallantry
on this occasion, was afterwards made Captain of a cavalry company
and by his heroism rose to the rank of Colonel. He was one of the
heroes of the war.
We captured 710 prisoners, all their artillery, and a large supply of
arms, and ammunition, with small loss to the 8th regiment. The
enemy's loss was 1,300 killed, wounded and drowned, and 710 cap-
tured, as reported.
For the force engaged on each side, this was the most complete
victory of the war. We had not more than 1,700 muskets in the
fight. A Baltimore paper which fell into our hands a few days
afterwards, placed the Federal loss in killed, wounded and captured,
at 2,250. They lost more men than we had muskets, a result un-
exampled in war. A flank movement by the Little River Turnpike
was apprehended, and I was ordered to retreat to the Sycolin.
No pen can describe the feelings of the men of the gallant 8th,
mostly citizens of Loudoun, as they marched through Leesburg and
abandoned it to the enemy. I felt dishonored, and was sure there
was no need for this hasty retreat, but orders had to be obeyed. For-
tunately, the enemy was too badly whipped to take advantage of our
retreat, and Leesburg was at that time spared from the ravages of
The gallant conduct of the 8th, and the complete victory at Ball's
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 243
Bluff, gave the regiment a splendid reputation which was increased
in every battle it was in during the war.
Soon after this fight the regiment was ordered to join the main
army at Centreville, that it might be brigaded with other Virginia
regiments. A public reception was given us when we reached Centre-
ville, and you were everywhere recognized as the heroes of Ball's
I shall never forget the wonder excited at Centreville by our wagon
train. It consisted of twenty-five wagons, and complaint was made
by you that you did not have more. When this wagon train reached
Centreville it drew out a large portion of Gen. Johnson's army. No
one would believe it belonged to one regiment.
The next day one-half of it was taken away. As the want of
transportation became greater during the progress of the war, our
transportation was still further reduced till we, who started with
25 wagons, were reduced to one, to carry the cooking utensils of the
whole regiment. It is impossible in a short address to follow the
8th Regiment through the whole war, and to describe its conduct in
all the battles in which it was engaged.
We fought at Seven Pines, 2nd Manassas, South Mountain,
Antietam, Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Gaines' Mill, Frazier's
Farm, Malvern Hill, Gettysburg, Howlett House, Gravelly Run and
These were our principal battles, but there were a great many
I must not fail to speak of two or three of these great battles, and
to describe somewhat at length our action in each.
One of the hardest of the Seven Days' fight was Gaines' Mill.
Mechanicsville was fought the day before and resulted in a victory
for the Confederate arms, but with heavy loss. The enemy took
up a very strong position at Gaines' Mill. They had three fortified
lines. The first was in a ravine about five feet deep; about a hundred
yards in rear of the first line was another, posted behind temporary
jjr east-works, and still another some hundred yards in rear of the
244 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
last also protected by temporary cover. These two last lines were on
the hillside so that all three lines could fire on the advancing Con-
federate line. Brockenbrough's brigade had charged this position of
the enemy and was repulsed. Pryor's brigade was put in and driven
back. Then Pickett's brigade, consisting of the 8th, i8th, 19th, 28th
and 56th Virginia Regiments, was ordered to charge this formidable
position. We charged down a steep hill and were exposed to the
terrible fire of these three well protected lines of the enemy. There
was never a more gallant charge than this, Gettysburg excepted. We
carried all three hnes in beautiful and splendid style, took a large
part of artillery in rear of the third line. At this point we were
joined by a portion of Jackson's forces, who had come in obliquely
on our left and then we met a charge of cavalry, which soon scattered.
Our charge at Gaines' Mill was the admiration of all who saw it,
and was attended with a severe loss while charging down the hill
and exposed to the fire of the hostile lines.
I have alluded to this because our brigade and our regiment never
behaved with more gallantry, and because our conduct has been
greatly misrepresented by the biographer of General Jackson, who
makes us — whom he styles Pickett's Veterans — lie down while Jack-
son's men charged over us and carried the lines.
In truth we did not see Jackson's men until we had carried all
three of the lines and captured the artillery.
Doubtless Jackson's men carried all before them, but we alone
carried the lines in front of us.
How shall I describe the charge of Pickett's Division (of which
we formed a part) at Gettysburg.
The 8th took position just behind our artillery with 205 men in
its ranks. It had been greatly reduced by its brilliant participation in
the preceding battles of the war. The country which furnished its
brave men was in the hands of the enemy. In consequence we did
not get many recruits. The regiment was, therefore, very small.
Five men were killed in the artillery duel, and when the order to
charge was given, two hundred heroes of the 8th regiment went in
a charge, the most brilliant and heroic in the annals of war.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 245
I was wounded at the red barn, a little more than half-way in
the charge. Gen. Garnett, our heroic Brigade Commander, was
killed cheering on his men. Gen. Armistead was killed while actually
leading his brigade with his hat on his sword. Gen. Kemper was
badly wounded. Our men, rank and file, fell by the thousands.
But the heroes of Pickett's Division charged on and onward with
almost resistless fury; until they had driven the enemy from its first
line behind a stone fence. By this time nearly all had been killed or
wounded, and the enemy seeing how small our numbers were, rallied,
and with fresh troops, killed, wounded or captured the small remnant
of this heroic band. Thus ended the most brilliant charge of that
or any other war.
The failure was not due to want of heroism, but to disparity of
numbers and of position. And thus ended the high hopes of our
immortal leader, Gen. Robert E. Lee, who believed the most impor-
tant results would follow success at Gettysburg.
The 8th Virginia Regiment, that carried into this charge an even
two hundred men, as brave as ever carried musket — lost in killed,
wounded and captured, one hundred and ninety.
Only ten men returned unhurt, who went into that fatal charge,
with a determination to "do or die" for the cause we all loved so
well. After the charge of your regiment the command devolved on
a Lieutenant — all above him in rank were either killed, wounded
or captured. This was July 3, 1863, and was the high tide of the
war. We all felt that the future of the Confederate States might
hang on the result at Gettysburg.
I was promoted to Brigadier General from Gettysburg and the
command devolved on Col. Norborne Berkeley, a gallant officer
worthy to command any regiment, even the 8th Virginia.
Though taken from your immediate command, the dear old 8th
was still a part of my Brigade and remained with me until the war
Our regiment with the rest of the Brigade was ordered to Chaffin's
Farm to rest and recruit after our severe labors and losses. We
joined the main army at Hanover Junction in the spring of 1864 and
246 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
participated in the memorable battles of that campaign, the most
masterly ever conducted by Gen. Lee or any other Military Chieftain.
In these fights the Federal losses were greater than Gen. Lee's
whole army. These losses were immediately supplied. Ours could
not be. While Gen. Lee was preparing to fight over the battle of
Malvern Hill, Grant was changing his base from the North to the
South side of James River. Beauregard had to abandon his fortified
line below the Howlett House and hasten to the defense of Peters-
burg. This line embraced Drewry's Bluff, and extended down the
James towards its junction with the Appomattox. It was vital to
the defense of Richmond. General Lee ordered Pickett's Division to
hasten to the defense of this important line.
My Brigade was third in line when this march began. We had
become familiar wdth all the cross roads and by-paths of the interven-
ing country while at Chaffin's Farm. For this reason I was ordered
to detach the Brigade from the rest of the Division, and make a
forced march to save this abandoned line. No troops — not even the
foot cavalry of the immortal Jackson — ever made better time. The
enemy had occupied Beauregard's line and turned it against us. I
was ordered to march down the Petersburg pike till I struck the
enemy, and retake the line. The 8th was sent forward as a skirmish
line and soon struck the enemy. The Brigade was ordered to left
face and charge. What a magnificent charge it was. We drove the
enemy into and beyond the abandoned line, which was re-established
and greatly strengthened. The other Brigade of the Division also
after a brilliant charge, took position in this line on our right and
left. This heroic conduct delighted our dear old commander. General
Lee, and drew from him the only undignified order he ever issued.
He said, after complimenting the officers and soldiers of Pickett's
Division, he believed "Pickett's men would take anything they were
Last summer I met Major Drewry at the White Sulphur Springs.
He witnessed this charge of ours, and said when I gave the order,
"Left face, charge," he never saw anything so splendid and beautiful.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
He said everyone in the bridage, from its commander to the last
private, seemed to know exactly what to do and did it in a manner
unequalled in the history of the war. He seemed very fond of telling
of this heroic conduct of the brigade, and I was not averse to hearing
it. I think he must have repeated it five or six times in my presence,
to different audiences.
From this time on it became apparent that the fortunes of the
Confederacy were on the wane. Victory had generally followed our
banner under Lee, but our resources of men and supplies were grow-
ing less every day, while the enemy's was increased. There was the
same gallantry of the men; but our Httle army could not fight the
whole world. To illustrate this unending gallantry, you will recollect
that while Pickett with the rest of his division was fighting Sheridan
at Five Forks, and was advancing on Dinwiddle Courthouse, Gen-
eral Lee ordered our Brigade (then reduced to less than 1,500 mus-
kets), with two Gulf States Brigades, fully as small, to form on the
road leading from his main line to Five Forks, to keep open the com-
munication with Pickett. We had hardly formed when a full divi-
sion of Warren's corps marched down upon us on its way to reinforce
Sheridan at Five Forks. We, with our three little brigades, attacked
this division and in the most gallant style drove it back more than
a mile and a half to Gravelly Run.
Our great Commander was highly pleased and wanted us to hold
this Hne. In this charge just before Richmond was abandoned and
our last sad retreat begun, and when the end at Appomattox was
close at hand, in this last regular fight we had in the war, the noble,
gallant soldiers of Hunton's Brigade behaved, each one, as a hero.
I was ordered next day to reinforce Pickett, who had been routed,
driven from Five Forks, and his command badly demoralized and
scattered. We were not able at that time to find General Pickett,
and were joined by two other brigades, all under command of
Gen. T. Bushrod Johnson. Under him we commenced our mourn-
ful retreat. Our brigade brought up the rear with Gen. Fitz Lee's
cavalry behind us.
248 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
This was a heart-sickening retreat. We all knew the end was not
far off, and still my men, including the battle-scarred veterans of the
8th, were ready to do all in their power, and to die for the dear cause
we loved so well. At one point on this retreat we had to cross a
bridge over a deep stream. The duty was assigned me of guarding
this bridge until the rest — infantry and cavalry — had crossed. When
it came to our turn to cross we were fighting the enemy in strong
force on three sides. I had flankers to the right and left and skir-
mishers in the rear. But we crossed in safety and continued to bring
up the rear till we united with the rest of Pickett's Division. Our
rations failed entirely. The brigade was halted at a corn house by
the roadside and ears of corn distributed as rations to the brigade.
On the 6th of April, 1865, as we approached Sailor's Creek, the
enemy attacked Huger's artillery on the other side of the creek.
Pickett's Division, my Brigade in front, went to its rescue and retook
the artillery. The Division was in line of battle, attenuated to the
last degree. Terry's Brigade on my right. Corse and George H.
Stuart on my left — each effort on our part to continue the retreat was
met by a gallant charge from Custer's cavalry, and while we were
thus prevented from retreating, the Federal infantry was surrounding
us. When surrounded, and not till then, I, with the heroes of my
Brigade, surrendered. I had sent the 8th to Terry to extend his line,
and most of them escaped capture. Thus ended our part in the war.
Three days later on, the 9th of April, 1865, General Lee surrendered
his army to Grant at Appomattox amid the tears and groans of a
I would like to mention the names of the officers and soldiers of the
8th who particularly distinguished themselves, but where almost all
behaved gallantly, it would seem invidious to mention but a few.
I will be excused for mentioning the gallantry of the four Berkeley
brothers. They were all brave men and good soldiers. When I was
made Brigadier General, Norborne was made Colonel of the 8th;
Edmund, Lieut. Colonel; William, Major; and Charles was senior
Capt. It was called the Berkeley Regiment. There were four
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Hutchison brothers and four Presgrave brothers, excellent private
soldiers, and strange to say the four Berkeleys and the four Hutchi-
sons and the four Presgraves, survived the war and most of them
are yet alive. I cannot forbear to mention G. W. F. Hummer, who
was a private in the Loudoun Cavalry, which I took to the first battle
of Manassas, I detailed him, and four others of his company, as a
picket to guard the blind road from Centreville to Sudley. This was
most fortunate, as this was the road pursued by General McDowell,
and there would have been a complete surprise but for this picket.
When driven in they brought me the news of this flank movement.
I at once communicated it to Beauregard and prevented a complete
surprise and enabled him to prepare in some slight degree to meet it.
I kept Hummer with me; and a braver, truer man I never knew. At
the battle of Ball's Bluff my horse (old Morgan) ran off with me.
I feared that my brave boys would think it was I that was running.
I lost my hat and pistols, but soon took Morgan up. I hardly re-
gained control of my horse before Hummer was at my side with hat
and pistols. When I was wounded at Gettysburg and my horse shot,
he was by my side, took my horse by the bridle and led him to the
rear. My horse lived long enough to take me back for the purpose
of getting another; but soon I became faint from loss of blood and
was carried by Hummer to the field hospital. He was by my side
in every place of danger, and was as true and gallant as any man in
General Lee's army. I procured for him an office under Cleveland's
first administration; by great exertion managed to keep him in
through Harrison's administration and he is there now. His absence
today diminishes the pleasures of this reunion. Long may he live to
think of his gallantry and devotion to the lost cause and to me.
I hardly regretted my absence at Appomattox. The trials of that
day would have overcome me. The spectacle of dear General Lee,
when he rode through our lines on his return from the McLean
house, where the terms of surrender had been agreed upon and
signed, with the tears streaming down his cheeks, would have been
more than I cared to endure. He was the grandest character of the
250 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
war and the greatest military chieftain of any age. May we all strive
to emulate his virtues and revere his name and fame. Our failure
was not due to want of splendid military leaders — Lee, Jackson and
Johnston were masters of the art of war — our soldiers were as brave
as any on earth — but the enemy numbered in the war 2,700,000,
while we had 600,000. Their losses were immediately supplied —
ours could not be. They had the best of commissary and quarter-
masters' supplies — ours was the poorest. When these odds and dis-
advantages are considered, the fight we made for four years must be,
and is, the wonder of the 19th century,
I returned from prison the last of July, 1865, and found the country
desolated, as many of you found your homes destroyed and nothing
left you but the blue sky above and the naked earth beneath you.
And yet no people in the world's history ever went to work as you
did to rebuild your homes and to take care of the dear ones who
held up your hands during the war.
The present condition of Loudoun, Fauquier, Prince WilUam and
Fairfax show how well you have succeeded.
The war ended thirty years ago; during the whole of that period
this Government has had no citizens more peaceful and law-abiding
than we. We have filled the role of good citizens, who desired to see
this Government "the best the world ever saw." But while this is
true, and while we expect to live and die as loyal citizens of the
Government we tried to overturn, does any one of you regret the part
he took in the war? Does any one of you wish to blot out from
his history the part he bore in it ? Does any one of you ever say I am
glad we failed? God forbid.
It would take from you the glory and renown you achieved, and
which belongs not only to you but to your children when you are
gone. How it grieves me to see a Confederate soldier go back on
the cause he loved so well. I hope there is none such here, and there
never vsdll be any of the 8th Regiment who will so reflect on his
gallant history from '61 to '65. If any have thoughtlessly or from
resentment or from any other cause, so forgotten himself, let him at
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 251
once pause, and let us all be, as long as our lives shall be spared, as
united as when the gallant soldiers of the 8th were "touching elbows,"
and when as one man we determined to "do or die" in behalf of our
dear lost cause.
God bless each one of you. May the balance of your lives be
tranquil and happy, and when the end comes may each one of the
dear old 8th be gathered in peace to his Father's and around God's
throne unite with dear companions of their Regiment who sur-
rendered their life's blood on the battlefield for the dear cause we
loved so well.
Farewell, my brave men, survivors of the "Bloody Eighth." We
shall never ALL meet again in this world.
Think kindly of your old Commander. Forgive his many short-
comings, and always believe he did the best he could for the cause
and for you. Farewell.
This hand-bill was spread broadcast throughout the Eighth Con-
TO THE PUBLIC!
On the night of the loth of July, 1878, in a discussion with Mr.
S. C. Neale, in the City of Alexandria, I stated in substance that the
Hon. William M. Springer made a motion (looking to the defeat
of the assessment enforcing bill) at the instance of Columbus Alex-
ander and others. While at my home in Warrenton, I was surprised
to find the following card from this man Alexander in the Alexandria
Gazette of the 13th instant:
Washington, D. C, July 12, 1878.
To the Editor of the Alexandria Gazette:
I find in the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Star, and several other
papers, a report of a speech made by Hon. Eppa Hunton last Tuesday
night, at Alexandria, in which he asserts that the infamous assessment
enforcing bill, passed by the House on the morning of the i8th of June
last, upon motion of Mr. Hendee, and for which he (Mr. Hunton)
voted, "had been brought to him endorsed by Commissioner Bryan,
Judge Wylie and Columbus Alexander."
Now in all due respect to the gentleman, I hereby denounce that
statement, not merely as entirely untrue, but in view of the recorded
facts, which I shall state hereafter, as even ridiculous. Nay, I go
further, and openly express it as my honest opinion that the honor-
able gentleman himself must have known at the time, when he made
that statement, that it was not true.
That bill, now universally recognized as one of the worst and most
unjust ring measures, passed the Senate on the nth of June in the
absence of that true friend of our people. Senator Bayard, and upon
the motion of that great ring advocate. Senator Sargent, of California,
as a substitute to quite a different bill, of which latter the title only
254 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
was retained. Five days later Senator Bayard made an attempt to
recall that bill from the House, but it was then too late under the
rules of the Senate.
On the morning of the i8th June the substituted bill was called
up in the House by the ring advocate, Hendee, from Vermont, and
it passed the House whilst not half a quorum was present. In the
afternoon of the same day I and a few other citizens, feeling greatly
chagrined at the passage of this outrageous bill, succeeded in inducing
Mr. Springer, of Illinois, to make a motion to prevent the bill from
becoming a law. But I will now quote verbatim from the Congres-
sional Record of June 19, page 52 :
"Mr. Springer. When the House met this morning there were
but few members present, and a motion was made at once I believe
by a gentleman from Pennsylvania (My Clymer), that the House
should adjourn; but it was stated that there were some matters of local
importance that might be transacted, and that this could be done if
there was no objection thereto; and thereupon the House proceeded
to consider whatever measures might be brought up by members,
against which it was understood no objections were to be urged.
"The gentleman from Vermont (Mr. Hendee) among others called
up a bill entitled a bill to provide for the revision and correction of
assessments for special improvements in the District of Columbia,
and for other purposes. That title is perfectly fair and harmless
upon its face, and attracted no attention on the part of the members
of the House. Objection was made by the gentleman from Tennessee
(Mr. Atkins) to the bill, for the reason that he did not understand it.
He was then assured that the bill had received the uanimous approba-
tion of the Committee for the District of Columbia of this House,
and he then withdrew his objection, and thereupon the bill was
passed. There was not a quorum present.
"Shortly afterward I met some prominent citizens of the City of
Washington who are interested in these matters — I am not, for I
own no property here at all — who informed me that the bill which
had passed this morning was one that the people of this District had
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 255
been resisting for many months; that it was one of great outrage and
oppression to them; that they did not beheve that this House of Rep-
resentatives would impose a measure of that kind upon the people
of the District intentionally and knowingly, I stated that I was
utterly ignorant of the provisions of the bill, but if a wrong had
been done —
"Mr. Hunton. Who were these friends of yours that called upon
"Mr. Springer. I will state them: Columbus Alexander was one
of them (laughter) ; Hon. Mr. Ingersoll, formerly a member of this
House, was another; Mr. Schade, of this city, was another. I was
also shown a letter written by Mr. Bryan, one of the present Com-
missioners of the District, in reference to these assessments, and I
now ask that the letter be read by the clerk.
" 'Mr, Hendee. Is the five minutes out yet.' "
Thus it will be seen that Mr. Hunton must have known that he
stated a falsehood last Tuesday night at the Alexandria meeting when
he maintained that I had endorsed that bill. He himself had been
the cause that Mr. Springer mentioned my name, and he had quietly
afterwards listened to the diatribes of his ring friend, Hendee, against
me, and probably 'enjoyed the fun' of hearing an old Democratic
fellow-citizen abused by certainly one of the worst Radicals in the
House. I never shall forget the spectacle I witnessed from the gal-
leries, of Mr. Hunton running up and down the Democratic aisles
assuring the Democrats that that ring bill was all right, and that,
therefore, Mr. Springer's motion should be voted down.
As to ex-Commissioner Bryan and Judge Wylie having endorsed
that bill, I will only state that I know from the letter of Commissioner
Bryan to the Senate Committee, read on that occasion by Mr, Springer
in the House, and from a decision of Judge Wylie, promulgated from
the bench of the Supreme Court of this District, that both entertain
the same opinion in relation to the special assessments, which this
bill enforces, as I.
I remain, sir, most respectfully yours,
256 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Although there was evidence in the card of an exceedingly malicious
spirit and a craving eagerness for notoriety, I did not doubt that its
author, on being informed of his mistake, would instantly correct it,
and make a prompt withdrawal of his offensive language. I accord-
ingly addressed him the following letter:
Warrenton, July 14, 1878.
Columbus Alexander, Esq.:
Sir: The Alexandria Gazette of yesterday contains a card over your
signature, in which the following statement appears: "I find in the
Baltimore Sun, the Washington Star, and several other papers a report
of a speech made by the Hon. Eppa Hunton, last Tuesday night, in
Alexandria, in which he asserts that the infamous assessment-enforc-
ing bill, passed by the House on the morning of the i8th of June last,
on motion of Mr. Hendee, and for which he (Mr. Hunton) voted,
had been brought to him, endorsed by Commissioner Bryan, Judge
Wyhe, and Columbus Alexander"; and then the said card proceeds:
"Now, in all due respect to the gentleman, I hereby denounce that
statement not merely as entirely untrue, but in view of the recorded
facts, which I shall state hereafter, as even ridiculous — nay, I go
further, and openly express it as my honest opinion that the honor-
able gentleman himself must have known when he made that state-
ment that it was false."
I have seen no report of my speech in Alexandria containing the
language quoted above from your card. I have just examined care-
fully the report of my remarks in the Alexandria Gazette, and can
find nothing like it. What I did say was in exact accordance with
the debate, as quoted in your card from the Congressional Record, in
substance, that the Hon. William M. Springer made his motion (look-
ing to a defeat of the bill) at the instance of Columbus Alexander
When you saw the report of my speech to which you allude, com-
mon justice required at your hands an inquiry of me whether I used
the language imputed to me. I have made a plain statement of the
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 257
fact, and now demand at your hands a withdrawal of the offensive
language of your card in the columns of the Alexandria Gazette,
which published it.
Your obedient servant,
Instead of availing himself of the opportunity offered by this letter,
Alexander published the following communication to the Alexandria
Gazette, beginning with my letter to him, as above:
Gen. Hunton and the Washingtonians.
Washington, D. C, July 16, 1878.
To the Editor of the Alexandria Gazette:
Sir: The following letter was handed to me yesterday:
Because the Alexandria Gazette omits to report that part of the
gentleman's speech, the latter thinks it a splendid opportunity of
getting himself out of the dilemma in which, unhappily for him
he is placed. But that will not do! Before I wrote my letter to the
Gazette I went down to Alexandria for the very purpose of inquiring
personally into the matter, and there I was assured by many personal
friends who had been present at that meeting that the remarks of
Mr. Hunton, as reported in the Baltimore Sun and Washington Star
Mr. Hunton will not deny that he used the names of Judge Wylie,
Commissioner Bryan, and myself, and that he did not say "Columbus
Alexander and others." Among those "others" he certainly could not,
as he attempts in his new version, have included Messrs. Bryan and
Wylie, because none of the gentlemen had anything to do with Mr.
Springer's motion, or even knew of it at the time it was made.
Mr. Hunton must have a small opinion of his Alexandria con-
stituents, or else he would not have thought it possible that five days
could have been sufficient to wipe from their memory his eloquent
words spoken to them as late as last Wednesday.
258 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Let him first correct the reports in the Star and Sun, certainly two
reliable newspapers, and the first one especially friendly to him, and
then, having myself been convinced that he was incorrectly reported,
he will have no cause of trying to "bulldoze" me, as evidently seems
to be his intention in the above letter.
General Hunton sent his letter to me through a Captain F. C.
Sheppard, of Warrenton, Va., one of his many appointees in the
Territorial building, on Four-and-a-half street, the seat of our Radical
District government. That gentleman evidently, too, was under the
impression that a little swagger would bring me down. But General
Hunton at least should have known that a man who for years has
almost single-handed fought the Washington ring, who has been
made the object of their special hatred, so that they even planned
against him that safe-burglary rascality, and who, a Virginian him-
self, never gives up as long as he knows he is in the right, cannot be
"bulldozed" by General Hunton or any of his District appointees.
If General Hunton is wrongly reported, I shall do him justice. At
present I have no proof, however, that such has been the case.
In conclusion, I think it proper to state to my Virginia friends that
I am positive that General Hunton has always been friends to the
Radical ring of this District, and helped them to get through bills
of the character of that infamous assessment-enforcing act, which
passed the House March 18 last. He has on that account been re-
warded with considerable District patronage, of which the above
Mr. Sheppard is a living specimen. For that reason the Democrats
of the Eighth Virginia Congressional District will really have per-
formed a charitable act toward the poor people of this District if they
should keep the General from the field at the next election. If they
have any doubt as to the correctness of my assertions, that doubt
will be removed by the fact that every ring paper in the District,
Radical and Democratic, from the National Republican down, works
for the re-election of General Hunton.
I am, sir, most respectfully yours,
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
It will be seen by the above card that Alexander not only refused
to withdraw the offensive language of his first card, but reiterated it
and gave to the public the name and residence of the gentleman who
bore my letter to him. This made it improper for me in pursuing
this matter to expose any friend to the severe penalties of the law of
the District of Columbia which inflicts the punishments of confine-
ment in the penitentiary on the bearer of a challenge.
No alternative was now left me but to reach Mr. Alexander in
some mode which would imperil no one but myself. I therefore
addressed him the following letter:
Alexandria, July 16, 1878.
Columbus Alexander, Esq.:
Sir : I addressed you a letter, giving you an opportunity, of which
you should have availed yourself, to correct an error into which you
had fallen. Instead of doing this you have replied offensively through
the press, and been guilty of such allusions to my friend, Capt.
Sheppard, as justify the apprehension that you would avail yourself
of the police of the District to subject any friend of mine to arrest
under certain circumstances.
I am thus constrained to resort to the mail as the only safe method
of communicating with you. Relying on your declaration in your
second card, that you are a Virginian, I ask that you will indicate
some place beyond the reach of the District police, where a demand
for the reparation which Virginians accord in such cases can be
made upon you.
To be sure you receive this, I send it as a registered letter. An
answer addressed to me at this place will reach me.
Your obedient servant,
This letter was placed in the Alexandria Post Office and registered
at 10 o'clock A. M. The earliest mail leaving Alexandria for Wash-
ington was at 12 o'clock M.
26o AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
The following telegram was also sent to him:
Alexandria, July 17, 1878.
Columbus Alexander, Washington, D. C:
Call at Post Office for registered letter from me.
(Signed) Eppa Hunton.
The operator in Washington telegraphed that the above message
was delivered at 10:45 A. M. on the 17th of July.
I received no reply to this letter, but in the Alexandria Gazette
this evening, Mr. Alexander published the following card:
Washington, D. C., July 18, 1878.
To the Editor of the Alexandria Gazette:
Sir: I regret to be compelled to trouble you so often. Yesterday
morning I received a telegram from Gen. Eppa Hunton, in which
he informed me that he had mailed to my address a registered letter.
That registered letter I could not obtain until this morning, July i8th.
Here is an exact copy of it:
My answer to Gen. Hunton is this:
You publicly, in a speech, published in the Baltimore Sun and
Washington Star grossly insulted me by saying that the most in-
famous ring measure ever passed through Congress, and for which
you voted, "had been brought to you endorsed by Commissioner
Bryan, Judge Wylie, and Columbus Alexander." I felt compelled
to show from the Record that your statement was false.
Instead, however, of writing to these papers and correcting the
wrong done me, you send me, through one of your appointees under
the Radical District government, a letter in which you attempt to
"bulldoze" me. Well, that you cannot do.
I am a free citizen, and I shall always avail myself of the great
privilege of such a citizen, to-wit : to defend myself and fellow-citizens
and our property against such infamous and confiscating Ring acts as
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 261
the one in question, and for which you not merely voted, but for the
passage of which you exerted yourself personally, something which
you dare not deny. That it is a Ring act of the most atrocious char-
acter is shown by the recent opinion of District Attorney Riddle, who
cannot help excusing himself for the hard features of that law by
exclaiming that he did not make the law! You have been our enemy,
and for that reason, and no other, we ask the Virginia Democracy not
to return you to Congress.
There is nothing in my letter that should induce you and your
friend, Captain Sheppard, to believe that I ever intended to use the
police against the latter, though I must confess that his visits were
frequent and annoying, one of them being made on Sunday night,
about ID o'clock, after I had retired to bed. It is not customary in
polite society for strangers to make calls in such manner and at
You seem to have an ungrounded fear of our District police, though
you ought to know that it is under the control of your Radical Ring
friends, who will certainly see that no harm shall be done you. In
that you have even the advantage over me, as that very police stood
guard over and directed the hired burglar to my house on the night
when the Ring scoundrels were trying by their infamous conspiracy
to ruin me and my family. No, you need not fear that police!
I have thus given this individual the opportunity to show that he
is a gentleman and a man of courage, but he has not done me the
justice of the one or been willing to accord me the redress of the other.
He refuses to come from the protection of the police he affects to
despise, and I cannot reach him without exposing friends to the
penitentiary. I therefore proclaim him a malicious liar, a vulgar
blackguard, and an irresponsible coward.
The public is assured I shall take no further notice of Columbus
Alexander or any publication from him. -r, ,t
•' ^ Eppa Hunton.
Alexandria, July 18, 1878."
Address of Judge James Keith, President of the Supreme Court
OF Appeals of Virginia, presenting portrait of General Eppa Hun-
ton to Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans, Richmond, Virginia,
April 25, 1902.
Comrades and Friends:
I congratulate myself upon being permitted to participate in this
most interesting occasion.
It is a privilege to be once more with men
"That ever with a froUc welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine,"
who faced every danger with courage, bore every privation with
fortitude, who won victories upon many a field which will be famous
in story while men cherish honor and women love courage; but
reserving to the last act in the great tragedy the highest, the noblest
proof of the true temper of their souls, went down in defeat, returned
to their homes, became good citizens as they had been good soldiers,
cheerful and steadfast amidst ruin and desolation because our great
leader had said that we carried with us "the consciousness of duty
faithfully performed," and what he said was to us as though it had
been declared by the oracles of God. I speak it reverently, oh, my
comrades! for his lips could not utter aught save the truth.
You felt that having done great deeds it was your duty to preserve
the memory of them, and to hand down to coming generations
memorials of your labors and the effigies of these who bore a distin-
guished part in them. This and the care of those who need assistance
are, I believe, the pious objects of this Association.
I bring to you tonight the portrait of one who is worthy to be
placed by the side of the noblest and the best of those whose pictures
adorn your walls. I have for forty years been proud to call him my
264 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
friend — not because he has in that time played many parts, and
played them well, upon almost every stage of human action — but
because he has ever been brave, truthful and just in all his dealings
with and relations to his fellowmen, and has always borne
The grand old name of gentleman."
General Eppa Hunton was born and educated in the County of
Fauquier, but upon being licensed to practice law he went to Prince
William County where he prosecuted his profession successfully and
had in 1861 passed into the front rank of the bar of that section, when
events took place which closed the courts and silenced the law for
many a weary day.
There had been signs and portents of a coming storm. The
presidential election of i860 had shown how profoundly men were
moved by the issues discussed in that campaign. The hand of a
master has recently given a vivid picture of the mighty conflict of
opinion that preceded the appeal to arms: "About every fireside
in the land, in the conversation of friends and neighbors, and deeper
still, in the secret of millions of human hearts, the battle of opinion
was waging; and all men felt and saw — with more or less clearness —
that an answer to the importunate question. Shall the nation live?
was due, and not to be denied."
General Hunton was named as an elector on the Breckenridge
ticket and maintained his cause with abiUty against the advocates
of Bell and Douglas. Lincoln was elected. State after State seceded.
Virginia called a convention to consider what course she should pur-
sue, and in that crisis the people of Prince WiUiam County wisely
turned to General Hunton. I shall not stop to state his position. In
that fierce tide no man could hold a position for two consecutive days.
Men were swept along by a force as little to be resisted as is the earth-
quake when it hurls the ocean upon the land, or heaves mountains
upon some smiling plain.
The convention met, and after the manner of their kind they
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 265
debated, they talked more or less wisely and well. They appointed
committees and the committees reported. They sent embassies, and
their diplomacy came to naught; and suddenly the tempest burst
upon us in all its wrath and fury.
Then it was that Virginia did a thing as noble as history records.
Indeed, in its sublime unselfishness, in its utter and absolute self-
eflFacement, it is without a parallel. It will stand for all time as the
best and purest sacrifice ofTered by the spirit of chivalry at the behest
of honor — the spirit which gives all and asks for nothing in return.
The people of Virginia loved the Union which they had done so
much to create. It was flesh of their flesh, and bone of their bone.
Her great men guided the councils and led the armies which won
our independence; the blood of her children had flowed upon every
battlefield of the Revolution; her sons had framed the institutions
under which they then lived and had influenced their growth and
development. The history of Virginia was indissolubly interwoven
and blended with that of the United States. She knew that upon
her bared bosom contending armies would meet in shock of battle;
but neither the tender and glorious memories of the past, nor the
dread ordeal which loomed in her path, gave her one moment's pause.
She drew the sword and flung away the scabbard, and from her soil
sprung a throng of armed men, as though it had been strewn with
the teeth of the fabled dragon.
General Hunton was commissioned as Colonel of the 8th Virginia
Infantry. Need I tell you what the 8th Virginia Infantry did ? When
I look around these walls and see the faces of so many gallant gentle-
men, many of whom have passed from us; when I recall that with
each of these pictures was given the story of their lives in a manner
more worthy of the theme than I can hope to do; and, above all,
when I look into your faces, the survivors of the Army of Northern
Virginia and the inheritors of so much glory, I feel — I know — that
it is in truth an idle thing to tell you about the 8th Virginia Infantry.
Was it not a part of Pickett's Division — the first division in Long-
street's Corps — the first corps in the Army of Northern Virginia?
266 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
Did not Hunton lead it at Manassas and at Ball's Bluff, and win for
it and for himself imperishable glory on these famous fields, not only
as a brave soldier, but as a ready, capable and resourceful officer?
Was he not with them at Cold Harbor, and upon a hundred other
fields of less renown, but which were attended by feats of arms and
gallant deeds more than enough to adorn the annals of more modern
wars? Was he not at the charge at Gettysburg? Was human
courage and fortitude ever put to a sterner test? Did human virtue
ever more nobly respond to the call of duty? In the midst of that
charge, unsurpassed in the annals of war, General Hunton and his
heroic band pressed right on to the enemy's line until overwhelmed
by the force massed in front of them, the greater part of his people
having been either killed or wounded, the survivors were compelled
to retire. For gallant conduct on that fatal day Colonel Hunton,
who had been sorely wounded, was made a Brigadier General. Think
of it! It was not a small honor to be able to do one's duty as a
private soldier in the Army of Northern Virginia, but to be promoted
for gallantry in Pickett's charge at Gettysburg, that was an honor
General Hunton, though greatly afflicted by a painful malady
which would have justified his absence from the field, remained with
his brigade throughout the war, participated in the campaign of 1864,
rendered distinguished service in front of Richmond, on the retreat
fought with his accustomed courage and tenacity, and was finally
made a prisoner a day or two before Appomattox.
After the war he made his home in Warrenton and practiced law
in Fauquier and the neighboring counties. He was the peer of such
men as Brooke, Forbes and Payne, Harrison, Thomas and Tucker.
Any man of industry and good sense can make a good argument
before a court. A trial before a jury calls into action all of a lawyer's
resources. It perhaps ought not to be so, but the character of the
lawyer has great weight before a jury. General Hunton had com-
manded a regiment drawn in large part from the circuit in which he
practiced. They were men of character and intelligence, and there
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON 267
was rarely a jury upon which some of them did not appear. He had
shared with them the privation of the camp, the fatigue of the march
and the danger of battle. Small wonder was it then that they looked
to him for the facts, rather than to the witnesses, and for the law
rather than to the court. War is the great touchstone of character.
Soldiers know each other as men can never do in other walks of life.
What higher tribute could be paid General Hunton than the un-
swerving devotion to him in peace of those who served with him
In 1872 he was elected to Congress where he served his constituents
ably and faithfully for eight years. During this time he encountered
in debate the "plumed knight" from Maine and suffered no dis-
advantage; and such was the position achieved by him among his
colleagues that he was chosen a member of the Electoral Commission
in 1876. After he retired from Congress he practiced law for some
years and upon the death of our honored and lamented friend and
leader, John S. Barbour, he was appointed to the Senate by the Gov-
ernor, and afterwards elected by the General Assembly to fill the
unexpired term. He served his State ably and acceptably, and retired
from public Hfe at the end of his term enjoying the confidence and
esteem of all men.
He has, indeed, played many parts in the drama of life. His career
embraces a great era in the world's history. We are "a part of all
that we have met." General Hunton was, as I have already said, a
man of strong sense, brave, truthful, honest, sincere, and faithful by
nature. Think of his varied experience acting upon and influencing
such natural quaUties. Every high thought, every noble impulse,
every generous emotion, every kindly action, leaves its impress upon
us. We are "a part of all that we have met," and so by degrees I have
seen my dear old friend, softened and refined by time, grow gentle
and tender as a woman until ripe and mellow, he has about him "all
that should accompany old age, as honor, love, obedience, troops
He is with us yet, and I trust will be with us for a long time.
268 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF EPPA HUNTON
I love to see his good gray head, and his face shines upon me Uke a
benediction : and when in the fulness of time he is taken from us he
will leave us an example worthy of all emulation.
I have already trespassed too long upon your time, but I beg you
to pardon me one word more. A lifetime has passed since the great
events in which we shared. I sympathize as deeply with our soldiers,
I love them as dearly, I am as proud of their glory and as jealous of
their renown today as when we stood shoulder to shoulder with arms
in our hands; but I realize now, my comrades, as I did not in those
days, that the federal soldier was a patriot who fought in a great
cause. What might have been, had the result been other than it was,
it is bootless to inquire; but this I do know, my friends and others,
that the government under which we live is the best that the sun shines
on, and that under it the rights of all are protected. It is not only the
best, but the greatest of all the governments of the earth, and is yet,
I devoutly believe, only at the threshold of its destiny. It too is "a
part of all that it has met." The mightiest event in its history is the
war in which we bore a part. The influence of that titanic struggle
is ineradicable. The deeds of the Confederate soldier are mingled
in the very web and woof of our national being, and in all our history
there is no brighter, no nobler page, than that which records his undy-
ing fame. Men may hke it or not, but it is there. In the heat and
fury of that conflict we were fused into a nation, a nation composed
of all its former parts, yet the whole differing essentially from any
part. We went into the war citizens of the States; we made peace
as citizens of the United States. Free citizens of a free country, let us
cherish its institutions and instill into our children the same love of
country, the same fervid patriotism, that inspired us in our youth!
So we shall obey the parting order, follow the example, and honor
the memory, of our immortal Lee.
Where shall we find one whose life has more faithfully interpreted,
more nobly illustrated, this teaching than that of our friend and
comrade whose portrait I now confide to your keeping.
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